Big data has become a gold mine for Internet retailers. Retailers make use of dynamic pricing to evaluate each site visitor and the products they prefer, the customer’s store loyalty, and even their income and purchasing power. That’s a little scary, but dynamic pricing algorithms are regularly used to determine the prices that site visitors see when shopping online. Dynamic pricing is used by retail business, airlines and more.
The price on a particular product may vary depending on your zip code, your loyalty to the retailer (if you frequently make purchases on their site), the type of device you’re using, etc. Prices may be cheaper if you’re on a desktop computer vs. a smartphone, or the other way around. Algorithms determine the cost, but they don’t let us know what pieces of data determine the price variances we see.
How frustrating! However, there are some methods you can use to avoid dynamic pricing. These methods are not guaranteed to help you get the lowest price. In fact, you may see prices increase. At the very least, you’ll be able to experiment and see how dynamic pricing algorithms may be viewing your website visits and how the prices change depending on the device and browser and/or device you’re using.
1). Use different browsers & clean out cookies: online retail sites place cookies in your browser to help them recognize you. You don’t even have to log in and make a purchase. Simply visiting the site and viewing products gives the site information about you and your interests.
To avoid this issue, use a different browser for viewing products, and another browser to make the purchase. For example, you might use Edge or Firefox for viewing products, and use Chrome to make the purchase. The site will think you’re a new visitor. No matter which browser you use, be sure to clear out all the cookies before shopping.
2). Use an incognito browser: you may also use an incognito browser. You’ll have a fresh view of the site each time, with no recognizable data tied to you. The site may still recognize your IP address, but they won’t be able to vary the price based on your buying history.
3). Disable browser cookies: it’s also possible to disable third party cookies, so retailers are not able to track you or view past purchases. This should ideally be combined with using an incognito browser in order to maximize your buying experience and keep prices (hopefully) lower.
4). Avoid using Google when shopping: the folks at Google collect a lot of information about you, especially if you use their services such as Gmail, calendar and more. This allows Google to track all of your online activities, including where you shop and what you buy. You’re also bombarded with targeted ad based on your shopping history. Either avoid using Google when you shop, or turn off Google’s personalized search and sign out of Google when you’re not using it.
5). Use various devices to search for better prices: studies have found that shoppers using iPads and iPhone generally pay higher prices. This is because the algorithm is set to view these devices as belonging to customers who have higher purchasing power. To avoid this problem, use various devices to search and buy products online. Compare prices between your mobile phone, your tablet and your desktop, for instance. Use the device showing the lowest price to make your purchase.
6). Use retailers’ apps to find the best price: you can also use dynamic pricing to your advantage. Some retailers offer exclusive deals on their apps. Another way to beat the price is to search for discount vouchers and codes before buying an item. This way, you’ll save money and use the algorithms to your own advantage, while also saving money.
7). Don’t sign up for an account before you make the purchase: logging in to your favorite retail site alerts the retailer that you’re back. Algorithms will go to work searching your buying history and if you’re a frequent customer or not. They’ll even know if you tend to make expensive purchases; this knowledge could raise the prices you’ll have to pay on any particular item.
To avoid this problem, don’t sign up for an account or login before making a purchase. Instead, register as late in the buying process as possible. The best time to signup or login is when you’re checking out and not before.
8). Change your IP address: retailers also store your IP address, which does contain generalized information about your location. Based on this info, algorithms can change the price accordingly. Perhaps they view your area as wealthier and you’ll see higher prices as a result. The opposite can also happen if you change your IP address—you may see lower prices if the area is viewed as one with a lower income.
Use a VPN service to change your IP address. A VPN works to mask your IP address, which could ultimately help you find cheaper prices. It may take a little experimenting, but finding the right IP address could save you quite a bit of money.
9). Learn when to shop: online retailers often use dynamic pricing to increase prices at certain times when more traffic comes to their site.
Researchers have found that Monday is the best day to make expensive purchases, and Tuesday afternoons are the best for booking flights. It’s a good idea to avoid online shopping over the weekend, when more people off work and able to do some online shopping.
10). Use sites that track prices: dynamic pricing gives online retailers information on the prices competitors are charging, peak shopping hours, etc.
To find the best prices, use a site such as CamelCamelCamel.com or Idealo.co.uk , which are Amazon price tracking sites. These sites help you to track prices over time and to create Amazon price drop alerts on your favorite products. You may even find these sites save you money on large ticket items, but understand you may need to track prices over a long period before finding the right price.
These are a few hacks to help you avoid the price increase of dynamic pricing algorithms. We hope you’ll be able to use these tools to find the best price and save money when shopping online.