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Internet retailer price changes--conscious parallelism

I've recently been shopping for a Roomba i7, which up through yesterday was on sale for $538.99 at Amazon, as well as Best Buy and all the other major online retailers I could find. I put it in my shopping cart but didn't buy it while shopping around, reading reviews, Pelican threads (always helpful on stuff like this), etc.

Sometime yesterday, when I looked in the cart again, Amazon let me know that there had been a price increase. There sure had--up to $699.00! I checked the other retailers, and sure enough they had all lock stepped their way up to Amazon's price. I don't know how quickly they made the adjustments, but I bet it was pretty much automatic. Probably driven by an algorithm, but I don't know. Anyone know how this all works?
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madcorgi View Post
I've recently been shopping for a Roomba i7, which up through yesterday was on sale for $538.99 at Amazon, as well as Best Buy and all the other major online retailers I could find. I put it in my shopping cart but didn't buy it while shopping around, reading reviews, Pelican threads (always helpful on stuff like this), etc.

Sometime yesterday, when I looked in the cart again, Amazon let me know that there had been a price increase. There sure had--up to $699.00! I checked the other retailers, and sure enough they had all lock stepped their way up to Amazon's price. I don't know how quickly they made the adjustments, but I bet it was pretty much automatic. Probably driven by an algorithm, but I don't know. Anyone know how this all works?
I've seen the same thing. I don't know. I've also had stuff that was in my cart go down if I put it in the cart and left it there a while.

I assume that part of it is "OK, Bob has been scouring the 'Net looking for prices for this widget, lets jack up the price since we're pretty sure that he's going to buy one."

I've seen the same thing happen with airline tickets, but in that case, if you switch browsers or clear the cookies for whatever website you plan to purchase the ticket from, the price goes back to normal. I don't know if that's a possibility or option in your case or not.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:15 AM
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I just checked, and everyplace that I look, the i series is $699 which is the same price as on the manuf site. It could be that there was a sale, that's gone off or maybe the manuf has instituted a "you can't sell lower than X price" rule or something like that. I think you're probably just screwed unless you're willing to wait.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:18 AM
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Conscious parallelism is a term from antitrust law. It's when competitors watch each other and adjust prices accordingly. As in the old gas price wars that rages many years ago, where folks would watch each other and mimic prices from across the street. As I understand it (not an expert), conscious parallelism is legal, as long as competitors don't "agree" to it.

Your suggestion about clearing cookies is an interesting one. I opened up Safari and cleared the cookies, then went to amazon and didn't sign in. Roomba i7 shows at $699.00. Then signed in as me. Still $699.00.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:25 AM
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I often think of some item I will need, will need soon, or want and I go to Amazon, and put it in my cart. It might take me a few weeks to place the order. I have often seen the price change while in the cart. Usually down, but not always.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:29 AM
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In this case, it sounds like you just missed a sale that other retailers were matching.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:40 AM
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Highlighted the operative part of the statement for you. Sounds like you missed the sale window.


Quote:
Originally Posted by madcorgi View Post
I've recently been shopping for a Roomba i7, which up through yesterdaywas on sale for $538.99 at Amazon, as well as Best Buy and all the other major online retailers I could find.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:40 AM
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I don't believe it was a sale. Whatever you buy from Amazon will increase in price the next time you buy it or look......a package of Velveeta Mexican Cheese went from $5 to $15 over the course of a year. Thankfully Walmart had it at 5. If you're unsure put it in your cart but don't buy until you're ready.

And if shopping for airfare using google flights save your initial search. It will go up if you don't buy and look again but if you recall the original search...voila!

They know exactly what they're doing.

Last edited by cairns; 09-10-2019 at 12:15 PM..
Old 09-10-2019, 12:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cairns View Post
I don't believe it was a sale. Whatever you buy from Amazon will increase in price the next time you buy it or look......a package of Velveeta Mexican Cheese went from $5 to $15 over the course of a year. Thankfully Walmart had it at 5. If you're unsure put it in your cart but don't buy until you're ready.

And if shopping for airfare using google flights save your initial search. It will go up if you don't buy and look again but if you recall the original search...voila!

They know exactly what they're doing.
I think this is right--it wasn't touted as a special sale on Amazon.

In a few years AI will be able to figure out a price I can't refuse. But until then, it's interesting to fool around with this stuff. I wonder if a person could figure out a way to arbitrage with a large order just before a price change, then resell for a bit less than the new price. Any time there is this level of price volatility, some bright person figures out how to use it to advantage.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:14 PM
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camelcamelcamel.com is a useful website for tracking amazon's prices. There are a few other useful tools like this.
Here's the record for the roomba:
https://camelcamelcamel.com/iRobot-Roomba-7150-Wi-Fi-Connected/product/B07GNRGDKP
There a few browser extensions that can also help you get the best price... wikibuy for instance. It will check the price of items in your cart and let you know if it is found cheaper elsewhere.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtc View Post
camelcamelcamel.com is a useful website for tracking amazon's prices. There are a few other useful tools like this.
Here's the record for the roomba:
https://camelcamelcamel.com/iRobot-Roomba-7150-Wi-Fi-Connected/product/B07GNRGDKP
There a few browser extensions that can also help you get the best price... wikibuy for instance. It will check the price of items in your cart and let you know if it is found cheaper elsewhere.

ha, beat me to it. Was just looking up the price when I noticed your post. Looks like yesterday's drop was a big mistake.
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Old 09-10-2019, 01:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtc View Post
camelcamelcamel.com is a useful website for tracking amazon's prices. There are a few other useful tools like this.
Here's the record for the roomba:
https://camelcamelcamel.com/iRobot-Roomba-7150-Wi-Fi-Connected/product/B07GNRGDKP
There a few browser extensions that can also help you get the best price... wikibuy for instance. It will check the price of items in your cart and let you know if it is found cheaper elsewhere.
Thanks, Graham.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:25 PM
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We have a super cheap knockoff robot vacuum. Less than $100.
I bet it does as good a job as the $500 roomba.

Sorry $600 roomba

But itís made in China
Old 09-10-2019, 11:12 PM
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We have a super cheap knockoff robot vacuum. Less than $100.
I bet it does as good a job as the $500 roomba.

Sorry $600 roomba

But itís made in China
I've been looking at a bunch of different ones. iRobot seems to have better customer service and parts availability. Things will only get worse for products with components made in China.
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In a room of 100 people... 98 of them will think they are in the top 10% in that room. 2 are in the wrong room
Old 09-10-2019, 11:33 PM
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ha, beat me to it. Was just looking up the price when I noticed your post. Looks like yesterday's drop was a big mistake.
Might have been deliberate--a one-day price change to test elasticity of demand.

I'm pretty sure this is all a bunch of computers playing chess. The one with the best algorithm "wins." But winning on price is a margin killer in retail. Way better to win on efficiency/customer service, etc.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madcorgi View Post
Might have been deliberate--a one-day price change to test elasticity of demand.

I'm pretty sure this is all a bunch of computers playing chess. The one with the best algorithm "wins." But winning on price is a margin killer in retail. Way better to win on efficiency/customer service, etc.
It would be, but most people are looking for the cheapest price.
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Old 09-11-2019, 04:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madcorgi View Post
Might have been deliberate--a one-day price change to test elasticity of demand.
That could be it.

The Black Friday sales use a few items "while supplies last. no rain checks" to get people physically into the stores and in a state of feeding frenzy.

If there is less activity on someone's credit card, these types of sales might become commonplace and tailored to spur an individual back into making purchases again.
(That would require a fair amount of coordinated personal tracking, though.)

That system of "different prices for different people" might become biased to an extreme.
Any system has the potential for extreme abuse.
Old 09-11-2019, 04:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by john70t View Post
If there is less activity on someone's credit card, these types of sales might become commonplace and tailored to spur an individual back into making purchases again.
(That would require a fair amount of coordinated personal tracking, though.)

That system of "different prices for different people" might become biased to an extreme.
Any system has the potential for extreme abuse.
I have very little doubt that individual pricing occurs. When automated by computer, it's not that hard. I'm sure there are all sorts of predictive algorithms and limits for it as well.

When you're as big as Amazon, an adjustment of a few cents here and there can make a big difference in the long run.
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:08 AM
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MAPP pricing. The manufacturer determines a minimum price for a sku and seller is contractually bound to abide.
Old 09-11-2019, 06:32 AM
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A few months ago I bought a Shark vacuum on Amazon because the price was amazing!.... only to have the seller cancel the sale and relist the item at a higher price. Seems like a bait and switch.

Here's your roomba I7
https://www.ebay.com/p/iRobot-Roomba-i7-Wi-Fi-Connected-Robot-Vacuum-7150/28024230249?iid=183947772862&chn=ps&norover=1&mkevt=1&mkrid=711-117182-37290-0&mkcid=2&itemid=183947772862&targetid=313776934696&device=c&mktype=pla&googleloc=9015981&poi=&campaignid=1669934603&mkgroupid=65058347419&rlsatarget=pla-313776934696&abcId=1123856&merchantid=6296724&gclid=CjwKCAjwtuLrBRAlEiwAPVcZBse8BOO2q_qp9KdXdmra 6s5XiJPKFbg10XlZaaKBXIK7xN8E3FvFkxoCLOsQAvD_BwE
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Old 09-11-2019, 06:44 AM
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