Why Online Shoppers Face Peculiar Results on Black Friday

“Dynamic Pricing” Online: Are Prices on Black Friday Actually Good Deals?

Real-time “dynamic pricing” is a strategy based on which online sellers, such as retailers or airlines, change the price of the product on the spot, based on numerous factors.

A formula based on supply and demand, as purists would like to have, won’t work in retail because there is almost always too much supply, and therefore a glut, with plenty of items on the shelves and in warehouses across the country that need to be sold; and not enough demand, hence ads, discounts, and promos to increase demand.

So other factors than supply and demand are used in dynamic pricing. Amazon is king of the hill in this strategy, but they’re all doing it. Real-time algorithm-driven – or to add some linguistic oomph to it, artificial-intelligence driven – pricing on the internet is now standard procedure. The algo looks at all the available data on hand about the customer, the product, and the competition, and puts a price in front of the customer’s eyes that is designed to trigger an on-the-spot buy-decision at the highest price the customer would bear.

The data that these algos look at include what the retailer’s website knows about you (are you logged in?), or knows about you from your history affiliated with your IP address, or knows about you based on the browsing data stored in your browser, or based on data from your smart speaker, smart TV, smart thermostat, or smart fridge, or based on data from various apps on your smartphone, such as fitness apps or retailers’ apps, or any other apps that collect data on you and send it back to wherever.

This data the website is able to gather about the person landing on it at the moment helps determine what price that persons sees. This includes information about income, education, job, race, the neighborhood, preferences, and so on.

Dynamic pricing also applies on the Black Friday internet shopping binge – when people think they’re getting the best deals, when in fact, the deals they’re getting are determined by dynamic pricing, and may not be the best deals at all.

This leads to peculiar results for online shoppers on Black Friday.

In an analysis of sneaker prices on Black Friday, compared to the rest of the year, going back three years, and looking at 1.4 million prices of 4,024 sneakers from over 200 retailers on the internet, RunRepeat, a review and price comparison site for sneakers, found that Black Friday may in fact not be a great time to buy.

Specifically, it found:

  • In the 12 months between August 1st, 2018 and July 31st, 2019, sneakers were cheaper on 66% of days than they were on Black Friday.
  • Of the 27 most popular sneakers in the RunRepeat database, the average price was 36.3% higher on Black Friday than on the cheapest day of the year for each pair of sneakers.
  • The spectrum ranged from Adidas’ Stan Smith being $0.94 higher on Black Friday than on the cheapest day of the year; to Nike’s Air VaporMax Flyknit being $63.58 (+57%) higher on Black Friday than on the cheapest day of the year.
  • Overall, aside from the comparison to the cheapest day, sneaker prices remain roughly stable on Black Friday with “no noticeable price drop across the board,” with the average price of sneakers on Black Friday last year at $64.63.

Similar pattern with consumer electronics.

RunRepeat also did a smaller non-scientific price survey of three popular consumer electronics categories – TVs, laptops, and headphones – on Black Friday, using data from Keepa.com, and found a similar pattern, that Black Friday was not necessarily the best time to buy these products, and that all the products it analyzed could have been purchased for a lot less on the cheapest day during the rest of the year.

It also found that compared to the average price throughout the year – not the cheapest price – TVs and laptops were cheaper on Black Friday, while headphones were more expensive.

As an example, the table below shows the results for one of the top selling items in each of the three categories, with Black Friday price, highest price during the year, lowest price during the year, and average price for the year:

  • Toshiba 32-inch 720p HD Smart LED TV – Fire TV Edition
  • Sony WH1000XM3 Noise Cancelling Headphones
  • Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop
Product Black Friday Price Highest Price Lowest Price Avg. Price
Toshiba TV $129.99 $179.99 $99.99 $154.26
Sony Headphones $348.00 $349.99 $297.00 $321.63
Acer Laptop $319.00 $379.99 $299.99 $335.58

So it’s the Wild West of online pricing.

Pricing has become totally fluid. Retailers have to sell product and make money doing it – in theory; in practice, lots of retailers are not making money.

The internet has turned pricing into a race to the bottom: Price comparisons of the same product sold by different retailers can be undertaken in seconds from the desk at the office or the couch at home, and consumers buy the best deals. So retailers need to underbid each other constantly to make the sale. One purpose of dynamic pricing is to make price comparisons more difficult since everything is fluid, and thereby stop the race to the bottom.

Obviously, for the industry overall, dynamic pricing strategies don’t increase overall retail sales. They can at best shift market share – and that’s what retailers are hoping to accomplish, to get a larger slice of the pie, or at least get some kind of slice of the pie, rather than no slice.

So how do you figure inflation in the Wild West of online pricing?

These pricing strategies have a side-effect, seen in the sneaker and consumer electronics data above, and seen in inflation figures: Data gatherers have a hard time getting a grip on prices since prices change constantly, up and down, by large amounts, based on many factors, including who is looking at the prices and what they have looked at before!

Thus, the very person or entity that is looking at the price influences and changes the price – turning the act of measuring price changes for the purpose of figuring inflation into an exercise of trying to nail Jell-O to the wall.

This wasn’t a big issue when online retail sales were just a minor sideshow, and price checkers could still rely on brick-and-mortar stores with their posted prices. But for many categories of retail purchases, the business has wandered off to the internet.

Online retail sales of goods in the US are now a $600-billion a year business. This is retail sales of goods only and does not include services such as airline tickets, hotel reservations, insurance products, and other services that use online pricing. In four to five years, online retail sales of goods will likely be a $1 trillion business – and in some categories, online sales have already come to dominate. And the Wild West of dynamic pricing will only get wilder.

But consumers are already getting smarter about navigating it to their advantage, which by definition destroys the purpose of dynamic pricing. Yup, it’s tough to be an online retailer.

It was like a centrally directed disinformation campaign. Here’s what happened. Read… Braindead or Willfully Manipulative? How the Media Reported Retail Sales

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  66 comments for “Why Online Shoppers Face Peculiar Results on Black Friday

  1. Dale
    Oct 22, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Yet another wrinkle. A few weeks ago a cousin of mine recommended a product. He looked it up on Amazon on his smartphone. I looked the same product up on Amazon on *my* smartphone.

    Same product. Same seller. Same app. Same time.

    Different prices. We traded phones and compared them side-by-side to verify.

    Amazon has apparently decided I’m affluent and offers me the same product for 20% more. (In MBA school, the removal of consumer surplus is a major goal, and Amazon has put it into action.) The recommendation was sufficiently good that I bought anyway. But now at least I know.

    • mike
      Oct 22, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      Thank you for this article. Amen as to Dale’s comment. Many black friday “discounts” are now gimmicks due to their raising the prices in the months immediately before that “sale” but such predatory pricing is not punished.

      Not naming any names but certain gigantic retailers even change the price after you have looked at a particular item, even on other sites: e.g., the price shown initially may be $57 but the next time that you look it becomes $87. If you look more at the same item, it becomes $97. They track your google and other history.

      That is how they got gigantic. I like Newegg.com, because they do not do that, to my knowledge.

    • Kiers
      Oct 22, 2019 at 8:49 pm

      Plus, every product is a “category leader”. Marked in different arbitrary buckets: like Men’s Razors/Razors with two blades/Stainless Steel blade razors…..LOL. WHat a joke this world is. The pricing discrimination is cost free money to any shopping platform! Hotels go empty but “The Price” is shown $200+. What a fake world. Man meets transistor; transistor wins. From the mind of Shockley (not a nice man).

    • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
      Oct 22, 2019 at 11:10 pm

      I was just looking at a product on Amazon and found a review somewhere, someone was complaining that while they were looking at it, it went from $60-odd to $80-odd, which struck me as funny as “my” price would be $129, the same as at the local Guitar Center.

    • Keith
      Oct 23, 2019 at 1:20 pm

      I think Amazon is more focused on the convenience factor to sell their products, not price. I see more often than not that Walmart, Costco, Lowes and HD have the same items for cheaper than Amazon. Amazon just makes it so much easier, especially if you are a Prime shopper to make the purchase without thinking twice about it.

      On a side note, I wonder if this fluid pricing affects the difference in prices in stores vs online (aside from hiding delivery costs). Oftentimes when I shop at Lowes, I find the in store price cheaper (almost $60 in one case) than online. I always thought it was for force instore traffic. I noticed the opposite pattern for a piece of camping gear at Walmart, though. In store was more expensive while online was lower to match Amazon. In the end, I oftentimes find myself checking my phone for the best price on bigger ticket items, which for the past year has been tools and home improvement materials.

  2. William Smith
    Oct 22, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    People who buy stuff are slowly waking up to the fact that information is power. They will use browsers that mitigate spying and tracking technologies. They might even go so far as to use VPNs to hide their IP address (the only thing you can’t fake). There are also buying agents used to hide the geo-location and identity of the actual buyer. Like anything, it is an arms race. I predict that there will be “disruptive, cyber, tech” comparison startups that will pit their AI against all the retailers AI(s) and get the best price: for a fee. Buzz words like “big data”, “AI” and “blockchain” will be effusively used. They will burn much cash and have ridiculous valuations; just like any self respecting unicorn.

    • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
      Oct 22, 2019 at 11:12 pm

      I use Amazon a lot for things I simply can’t obtain locally. All kinds of thing from vacuum cleaner bags, some replacement corks for a trumpet, various books, even foot powder once, because there are things my tiny hamlet of about a million people simply can’t supply.

      • SoCalSally
        Oct 23, 2019 at 5:24 am

        Odd. No foot powder in all of San Jose?

        • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
          Oct 23, 2019 at 8:47 pm

          I’m sure there was some hole-in-the-wall shoe store selling the foot powder I like, for 2X the normal price, but it would take running all over town to find it, then I’d pay 2X normal price.

      • Ethan in NoVA
        Oct 23, 2019 at 12:26 pm

        Your local music store could have used that cork business! If they would have sold you the parts without you getting it repaired there, that is.

        • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
          Oct 23, 2019 at 8:48 pm

          My local brass store is …. well, I don’t want to say arselochs, but they’ll certainly charge $75 and a month or so wait time to pop in two new corks.

          They rip off enough band parents; they don’t need me.

        • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
          Oct 23, 2019 at 8:48 pm

          Oh, and no, you can’t just buy parts from them or I would.

  3. Petunia
    Oct 22, 2019 at 5:14 pm

    I got the best prices of the season last year from the middle of Oct to the middle of Nov and then again in the couple of days before Xmas. The going out of business sales last year were good as well.

    So far this year the end of summer sales were good, but nothing is discounted for the holidays yet.

    The fashionistas online insist that putting items in your cart and not buying is the best way to get discount offers, fyi.

    • Unamused
      Oct 22, 2019 at 6:14 pm

      The fashionistas online insist that putting items in your cart and not buying is the best way to get discount offers, fyi.

      I find that putting things in my cart and not taking them through checkout saves me the trouble of having to find a place to put them. It’s occurred to me that they’re called ‘stores’ because that’s where you store things.

      Retailers are going to have a hard time meeting my price point when I’m already trying to give away the same stuff.

    • GirlInOC
      Oct 22, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      yap. The go-to offer I get is “free shipping on your cart!”…little do they know, I never buy anything if I have to pay shipping. So I just lay in wait for the shipping code.
      Kohl’s has started egging me on though by adding a pop-up window while I’m browsing, offering a $5 or $10 discount if I purchase something in the next hour. The last time they did that, because I had a coupon and Kohl’s cash, I spend a whopping $3 bucks.

    • FluffyGato
      Oct 25, 2019 at 9:24 am

      Agree with Petunia that mid-Oct to mid-Nov tends to be the best time to shop in my experience.

      Retailers are desperate for any sales, as consumers have been conditioned to wait for Black Friday.

  4. Brett M Austin
    Oct 22, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    I ordered a kitchen stool on WalMart for $30 and when I hit buy; it said out of stock and later appeared for $46.
    I also order another product on Amazon for about $35 and 5 days later got an email saying “customer canceled order” which was not true. It later appeared for a much higher price.

    Great report Wolf!

  5. Unamused
    Oct 22, 2019 at 6:07 pm

    A formula based on supply and demand, as purists would like to have, won’t work in retail because there is almost always too much supply, and therefore a glut

    One of the classic flaws inherent in capitalism in general and supply-side economics in general: a lack of balance with demand – inefficient, wasteful, and destructive.

    We’re in decluttering mode and can be counted on to contribute more to the already-glutted Supply side and very little to the Demand side. We have way too much stuff we haven’t bothered with in years and will again rely on the second-hand stores and relief centers to take it off our hands to relieve the backlog.

    I expect to get yet another necktie, dress shirt, and jigsaw puzzle this Christmas to add to the collections. I never get what I really want: peace on Earth, good will toward all. Also real estate.

    • TXRancher
      Oct 22, 2019 at 7:08 pm

      All too true.

      I just got a WS beer mug that must have a hole in it cause it keeps going empty.

      • Oct 22, 2019 at 7:59 pm

        LOL. Got the same problem.

        I like Unamused’s earlier idea of using the beer mug as a shot glass when the market turns against you.

        • Oct 22, 2019 at 8:12 pm

          I see that you’ve updated the little beer mug donation image with the official mug. Very nice!

        • Oct 23, 2019 at 12:24 am

          Yes, RD Blakeslee talked me into it. I had to increase the size of the mug-button so that the design was large enough to not look like a smudge on the computer screen. But I didn’t want it to get too large.

        • Iamafan
          Oct 23, 2019 at 6:22 am

          For the whisky lovers here, can you kindly follow up with your version of humour in a Glencairn.
          It’s getting cold here in the North.

        • Panamabob
          Oct 23, 2019 at 10:47 pm

          Been using my new beer mug in Arizona but having a similar problem with loss of fluid, must be due to evaporation in this dry climate.
          Wolf, can you offer an improved version, more expensive, with a German beer stein cap for the desert rats?
          I’m sure the problem will not happen with my Michigan mug when I return in the Spring, although a cap could keep the bees from taking their share.

      • Unamused
        Oct 23, 2019 at 7:10 am

        I just got a WS beer mug that must have a hole in it cause it keeps going empty.

        That’s why you have to have two. In case you need backup.

        Also to have one for each hand. A balanced diet is important.

    • Petunia
      Oct 22, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      I always get things I want for Xmas because I make a list with pictures, store locations, prices, sizes, and even attach coupons. I don’t get everything I want, but I do get things I want. I don’t want stuff I’m not going to use and my family appreciates not having to waste time finding something for me.

      • Paulo
        Oct 23, 2019 at 3:29 am

        I get what I want at Christmas because I don’t want anything. :-) Maybe I’ll ask for that new by book by Annonymous.

        For online I noticed when there is a delivery screwup I just get a message vendor could not fill the order due to…. Sometimes, they say cannot ship to Canada. Righhhht.

    • Dave
      Oct 23, 2019 at 2:52 am

      Well, you are not getting the real estate because it is being bought up by companies that build storage facilities for all the stuff we don’t use!

      All kidding aside, in my area I have seen multiple storage facilities go up over the last 5 years in a 10 mile radius from my home.

      • Harrold
        Oct 23, 2019 at 10:45 am

        You are not alone. I am also puzzled by the building of so many self-storage facilities within a few miles of my house. What could everyone be storing?

        • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
          Oct 23, 2019 at 8:51 pm

          Some factors may be that something like 5% of the population is homeless. They don’t look homeless; they’ll have jobs and a vehicle to park and sleep in and a gym membership to stay clean, but a storage unit is a Godsend if you’re homeless.

          I also see small businesses using them.

          Then there are people moving, so they’re using them to put their stuff while they get settled into their new places.

      • Ethan in NoVA
        Oct 23, 2019 at 12:35 pm

        Storage units must be super profitable. They often lie about the size of the lockers (fine print says all sizes advertised are estimates.) Then when people use them they start jacking up the rents. Public Storage is the worst. It’s obvious the reviews are fake. I wish the consumer protection agency would come up with a truth in advertising law against storage units.

        Lots of people are priced out of owning real estate, so I imagine they’re used for that. Plus poor house designs that have no storage for say — Christmas decorations and the like. Plus they’re often used by businesses for offsite document storage. Where I used to live it was illegal to register many types of businesses to your home address, so they get registered to storage units by business owners. Not to mention practicing musicians where allowed.

    • Cas127
      Oct 23, 2019 at 6:18 am

      “One of the classic flaws inherent in capitalism” – better than the “brilliant, selfless” planners in DC who have so improved life in the US over the last 50 yrs…

    • robt
      Oct 26, 2019 at 12:21 pm

      Definitely the Soviet-style supply mechanism was more efficient. /S
      If it couldn’t be supplied because some apparatchik decided how many the population would need, and it wasn’t enough to satisfy demand, then you probably didn’t need it anyway, and if you did, you could buy it on the black market for 5 or 10X the official price because some workers skimmed off the production to supplement their wages.
      Black market, the real market when there’s no free market. But it’s still supply and demand.

  6. Brant Lee
    Oct 22, 2019 at 7:52 pm

    Googling is of no help. Most product searches bring up Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot or usual suspects first. Search for ‘Best Price’ and you still get the same. Now we all know Google can find the best price, but it’s not profitable for them.

    • Oct 22, 2019 at 8:04 pm

      There are several sites that track Amazon prices. That’s what I use to determine if the price I’m seeing is actually a deal or not. Now, the real purpose of these sites is to get you to click their affiliate links so they can get a cut of your purchase.

      Same thing goes with many of these so called review sites. It’s all just affiliate marketing to get a piece of the huge online retail pie.

  7. Iamafan
    Oct 22, 2019 at 8:50 pm

    I highly advice you all watch Meryl Streep in Netflix. The Laundromat is in the money. Good for our kind.

    • Edward Boyer
      Oct 27, 2019 at 11:15 am

      Part true. But too much hate the USA. The problem is world wide, GREED.

  8. WES
    Oct 22, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    On Black Friday I want an industrial slurry pump!

    AI is so smart!

    Still hasn’t figured out yet that I am crazy!

  9. Old-school
    Oct 22, 2019 at 9:14 pm

    I am happy to report that I successfully sold my one and only stock holding PETS at a very nice gain. The reason is related to Wolf’s article.

    The pet on-line pharmacy market was a rather odd duck with PETS being the largest and products were acquired through a gray market distribution system. PETS had a good thing going with high margins. They had no debt and paid nice div. As more people got into on-line sales pricing competition got severe and margins plummeted. To make a long story short the gray market distribution was eliminated and it is now possible for on-line retailer to buy direct from manufaturer. Instead of variable pricing the manufacturers enforced minimum advertised pricing. This brought some price discipline to the market. The good news for PETS stock holders is that margins became good again and the stock popped about 40% in two days after earnings were reported Monday premarket. I believe there was a short squeeze. Sold all I had as I think the pop was a little overdone. I like the company and will probably buy some more if air comes out of price. Its the best I have ever done on a less than one year stock holding.

    • doug
      Oct 23, 2019 at 8:04 am

      plenty of ready cash for beer mug!

  10. medial axis
    Oct 23, 2019 at 2:54 am

    If we had true digital cash[1] we’d be able to shop online anonymously, much like shopping on the high street using physical cash. You might have to hide your true IP address, unless you’re shopping sat in a bar using their wi-fi (but that could backfire, I suppose).

    Also, there’s an opening here for those who get offered the cheapest prices to buy on behalf of others. They’ll want their cut, of course. Anyway, there’ll soon be apps out that counter what the likes of Amazon are up to. The start of an apps arms race. Don’t see how it makes for a more efficient economy?

    [1] That enabled you to pay a vendor without revealing your identity, much like physical cash.

    • c1ue
      Oct 23, 2019 at 3:34 pm

      Disagree.
      True anonymity in money transfers equates directly with criminal use.
      KYC and AML laws in the US make it so anonymous online payments will never happen, with the IRS and state sales tax authorities close behind.

  11. fajensen
    Oct 23, 2019 at 2:56 am

    In addition, with consumer electronics and white goods, some brand manufacturers will commission ‘special-deal’ or ‘unique’ productions of their regular brand products.

    This can be seen from the product number, the products are seemingly exactly the same f.ex. both named ‘HP Pavillion P2 Series” in the stores, but the product numbers, which encodes what the thing ‘is made from and where’, are different.

    They do this for several reasons, the first one is that many large retailing chains offer a ‘price guarantee’. They promise to pay the difference if any customer finds the same product cheaper anywhere else – which they are happy to do because they have their own product numbers, which are totally unique to the chain. So, nobody will find ‘the same product’!

    Another reason is to provide a crapified product specifically made to hit a ‘price point, deemed to draw the crazy crowds in for the big sales like ‘Black Monday’.

    My advice is: Don’t do big sales, all deals are crafted ‘especially for you’ and they are not deals, they are just selling what they want us to buy at a price they want us to pay.

    • Kent
      Oct 23, 2019 at 5:40 am

      Walmart has long had this strategy. A lot of their electronics are crapified Walmart-only production runs. Even on stellar brands.

    • Harrold
      Oct 23, 2019 at 10:47 am

      Mattress stores pioneered this years ago.

  12. Jos Oskam
    Oct 23, 2019 at 3:07 am

    Everybody and his dog are telling me that AI is so smart, that every bit of information about my habits is being extracted, stored and analyzed, and that online retailers like Amazon use all this to finely adjust the prices presented to me as to extract the maximum amount of money from my wallet.

    So why is it, if they’re so smart, that if I buy a power drill on Amazon, they keep pestering me with offers for power drills for weeks on end? Or magnetic USB cables that I just bought with them? Or a new hard disk for my desktop PC? How many of those do they think I need?

    If this is AI, it looks pretty stupid to me.

    • Paulo
      Oct 23, 2019 at 3:33 am

      Exactly. I still get offers for water wells because I put one in 10 years ago. The funny add on to online purchase is the old, “Customers who bought this item also bought….”

    • MC01
      Oct 23, 2019 at 3:39 am

      I am glad I am not the only one who noticed this: as much as I like Crossfaith I only need one CD copy of Ex_Machina… which incidentally I have just bought on Amazon. Perhaps this is some sort of underhanded scheme to target people who don’t remember what they bought, or perhaps everybody who bought a CD from that category that week gets exactly the same email promoting exactly the same products: music companies will go to incredible lengths to promote their stuff: the sales pitch Amazon did for the last Archenemy album must have cost Century Media a small fortune.

      PS: true AI isn’t coming for quite some time yet. These are just very slick pieces of software. Some of the technical problems that need to be overcome are unsurmontable right now and will require either years of work or the classic stroke of genius.
      Or perhaps like time travel AI will remain nothing more than a very interesting intellectual exercise.

    • JoAnn Leichliter
      Oct 23, 2019 at 4:44 am

      Lol! It is still “garbage in, garbage out,” no matter how sophisticated they try to make it sound. Artificial Intelligence is pretty…artificial.

    • fajensen
      Oct 23, 2019 at 5:26 am

      Since you already bough the item, there is a hundred-percent correct correlation-score on the ‘consumers who watched this add bought the item’-KPI … Worth something to the people selling the add-pushing AI?

    • Kenny Logouts
      Oct 23, 2019 at 7:21 am

      That’s because AI is being hyped by the suppliers too.

      That’s why Google is “worth” eleventy squillion dollars, but is actually worthless.

      It’s all just bother big bubble ready to pop, and only those who add real value will survive.

  13. former
    Oct 23, 2019 at 3:53 am

    This comment is for every day online shopping, dully noted, BF shopping in stores yield better deals.

    You have to fight technology with technology. There is site camelcamelcamel dot com. (not sure posting link is OK, but this one is worth checking out)

    You set your watchlist (links of products from amazon) and your price. And only when price drops bellow your set limit, you get an email notification and you can buy it for that price. At upper mentioned site you also have for each product historic price chart, so you can see in what range amazon’s AI is driving prices up and down, to better decide what is best deal you can extract from amazon (ha, not what is higher price amazon can extract from you!)

    Also as side note, whenever you send someone link to amazon product, just use first part, that ends with a number. Part that starts with ‘ref=’ is tracking part.

    Don’t just click on amazon link that it was provided to you from say friend. Copy/paste it and remove everything on the right starting with ‘ref=’

    Also using Tor browser (and not logging into any of your online accounts with it) helps stay away from IT companies gathering much of data about you.

  14. Vadim
    Oct 23, 2019 at 4:07 am

    For my small online store I am implementing a dynamic price system too. But it doesn’t use any data from customers, it just looks at past selling experience and the competition’s prices. If no data is available, it lowers the price if the product doesn’t sell, or it raises the price if it sells well – trying to get to a certain sales flow. It should work well balancing out supply with demand.

    I am amazed at the complicated algorithms these big retailers are using trying to trick customers to pay up. I am hoping they will mess up at some point while my simple algos will still work fine. Maybe the customers will get sick and tired of this trickery and stop buying from them.

    Anyway, I am not in the US, so maybe here is different. My competition includes local Amazon wannabe copycat Emag (growth oriented perpetual money loser with ballooning debt) and a handful of medium and small online stores.

    • medial axis
      Oct 23, 2019 at 6:00 am

      Years ago I worked in a car accessory shop (UK). One of the first that sold stuff at knock down prices. If a product we’d bought in and were selling at a very low price didn’t sell then we’d take it off display for a week or two and reintroduce it at a higher price! Often it then sold.

      • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
        Oct 23, 2019 at 8:56 pm

        Customer Psychology 101: Years ago a friend sold motorcycle stuff at a swap meet. By mistake he had two bins of motocross gloves at two different prices, facing two different ways. They sold well at both prices.

  15. CRV
    Oct 23, 2019 at 5:23 am

    If i want something from Amazon and have no hurry to buy it right now. I put the item in my ‘wanted’ list. Next few weeks i will get emails with reminders and the updated prices which are almost always lower then the original.
    Just a tip.

  16. Dave
    Oct 23, 2019 at 7:16 am

    I figured out long time ago that Black Friday doesnt have the best pricing for what I want to buy. It doesn’t matter whether its brick and mortar or on-line shopping.

    Im a shopper and keep my eyes open for the best deals available. I never wil pay full price.

  17. Leser
    Oct 23, 2019 at 8:15 am

    Another trick to get better online prices: starting with a clean browser cache and history, look at a few competitor websites and price comparison websites before doing the “real” shopping. A website that evaluates your cookies and browser history, would then classify you as a price-sensitive and informed buyer, giving you a lower dynamic price.
    Obviously do this logged out and in an anonymous browser window with IP address obscured/changed to prevent identification.

  18. Jeff T.
    Oct 23, 2019 at 10:52 am

    I dislike shopping in general and have learned that just because they make it does not mean i need it. Materialism is a form of slavery.

  19. c1ue
    Oct 23, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Dynamic pricing appears to be the old retailer strategy of raising prices 50%, then offering 50% discounts.
    Then again, most of AI/ML “smarts” falls into this same category: replicating what smart people already have been doing, only without having to pay smart people to do it.

  20. Oct 23, 2019 at 6:13 pm

    I just attempted to purchase two beatiful “Nothing Goes to Heck in a Straight Line” mugs that were sitting in my “store” since yesterday, hoping not to wait till Friday went black, but it seems true that nothing goes to UK in a straight line neither!

    Two mugs came to $47.50 (thanks Wolf for the $2.50 discount), but shipping whacked on a further $50.95 and your’s truly did a chicken as I’m very poor and just want to buy the mugs because I so much value what you do here Wolf and feel I’m stealing from you if I don’t sometimes give something back for the wonderful insights and education you and all the commenters give me here for free. I’m not asking you to ship cheaper, mind. I’ll just work more and save harder until I can afford to buy them.

    Meanwhile, I’m Nigerian, proper. But won’t chance finding out the cost to ship the to Lagos, because I can bet you $419 it would cost an arm and a leg and a torso and a head and I’d likely see them never for some odd reason though I’m certain only I can say such a thing.

    You rock Wolf!

    • Oct 23, 2019 at 6:32 pm

      “but it seems true that nothing goes to UK in a straight line neither!”

      That’s hilarious. Will steal that from you at the right opportunity. True, it takes a little longer and costs a little more for the two mugs to travel all the way across the pond. Thanks!

      • alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit
        Oct 23, 2019 at 8:58 pm

        Frankly, $50 shipping for two mugs to Nigeria sounds really cheap. I ship stuff overseas (anywhere outside the US is “overseas” even if it’s just over the border in Canada) is EXPENSIVE.

        • buda atum
          Oct 24, 2019 at 8:29 am

          “Frankly, $50 shipping for two mugs to Nigeria sounds really cheap.”

          Seriously? It might sound cheap but basic wage of a government employee in Nigeria is officially ₦30k a month. And most states don’t pay monthly but one month in 3. And todays rate is ₦361.50 to the $.

          Definitely cheap for shipping two mugs, I agree. Especially if I got me some gold juice to be drinking out of it. Lol!

      • buda atum
        Oct 24, 2019 at 8:19 am

        “That’s hilarious. Will steal that from you at the right opportunity.”

        You Wolf? Steal from me? That would indeed be hilarious since you’d be like stealing from yourself since I’ve pretty much stolen wit and humour from you Wolf. Your inspiration is one thing that doesn’t go in a straight line and definitely not to heck, whichever state in the US heck is in! And that sexy voice of your’s! Grrrrrrrr!

        I’ll stop with the PDA now or my next comment will be “marry me, please”.

  21. CrazyCooter
    Oct 24, 2019 at 7:51 am

    True story.

    Last year, black friday, I was able to complete my rusty wier collection for pennies on the dollar. Vinyl and CDs that were listing (and I have window shopped for months/years prior) for 40, 60, or up to 200, dropped down to the buy zone for me (10 to 20).

    I had one vinyl that had a bad track due to warping, which I replaced, and two missing CDs, one of which I picked up since then.

    I am down to one missing CD for the discography.

    I was SOOOOO HAPPY last black Friday, but I suspect I am an outlier. :) I didn’t really buy anything else. :)

    Regards,

    Cooter

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