Variable Pricing: What You Should Know about This Ecommerce Tactic

Variable pricing is not a term we hear about too often, but consumers are much more familiar with it than they might realize – especially when it comes to ecommerce and online buying.

Variable pricing is defined as charging different prices for the same item, a tactic that is used by many large online retailers, and something that affects almost all shoppers.

While the majority of shoppers do not have a problem with seeing a variety of price options, there are other hidden factors that the White House is now bringing to light.

According to an article in Fast Company, the White House’s council of economic advisors has issued criticism of variable pricing, taking aim at large online retailers, ranging from Amazon to travel sites.

The biggest issue the White House has with variable pricing is that consumers are seeing different prices based on information that is being collected by these sites. So, a consumer’s geographic location, the device being used to shop online or even the shopper’s annual income could all factor in to the price displayed for a given product.

As a result, the White House is recommending a policy framework that will protect online shoppers from discrimination, intrusive tracking and price gouging.

Although the White House is making these efforts, there is still room for education.

Consumers can prevent being discriminated against by comparison shopping among many different retailers, or switching the device they use when they shop online.

As for online businesses, it’s up to them to be transparent with customers about how their data is used and stored, and act ethically with the information that is provided to them. So, if you collect email addresses for a weekly newsletter, don’t share it with any third parties. If you allow customers to create a buyer profile for ease of checkout, be sure it’s secure and private. Doing these little things can help build goodwill and trust among customers.

While the White House is making attempts to clear up variable pricing schemes, these quick tricks can help you take customer privacy into your own hands. Stay tuned for more news on where the variable pricing debate lands.

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