5 Tips on How to Avoid Sneaky Online Shopping Price Changes
If you haven’t already heard of dynamic pricing, the practices involved in this strategy may surprise you. Dynamic pricing is a system by which online retailers change product prices depending on various factors, including your purchase or browsing history, your operating system, and even your zip code. These changes are based on algorithms that are programmed into a business’s website. For example, if you regularly shop at a website, the online retailer might jump to the conclusion that you are more likely to buy particular items at premium price points. Online shops are also known to use your zip code’s general income levels to determine how much to charge you for certain items. The truth behind this reasoning is that you always leave a sort of trail every time you shop online, and retailers will tap into the trail to find out a way to maximize their profit margins—at your literal expense.
Read on for a few tips and what you should know about dynamic pricing, including some ways you can get around this pricing strategy. Believe it or not, dynamic pricing is indeed legal.
Check for Price Changes
How can you determine if you are getting a dynamic price? One sure way to tell is by looking at the item online, decide that you do not want to purchase it, but returning to it later. Is the price higher? If so, you might be dealing with dynamic pricing.
Another way is to check the item’s pricing using your mobile phone or desktop/laptop if you have already done so on your smartphone. Many retailers will offer different prices depending on the device you use. If you notice a price change, then, once again, you might be dealing with this pricing strategy.
Now that you are able to determine whether or not you are dealing with this pricing tactic, what next?
Browse in Private Mode
Set your browser to private or incognito mode, this way none of your browser history will be stored on your computer. However, please do note that just because you are using this mode does not make you anonymous. The website is still able to identify your IP, meaning it can still see your location. And of course, if you’re logging on incognito mode at work, it’s likely that your employer will still be able to access your browsing history. However, sites you visit will no longer change prices depending on your browsing and buying history.
Disable Third-Party Cookies
Browser cookies are tiny bits of information that contain information about your browsing and computer history. Retailers use this information to determine if you are likely to purchase certain items at certain prices. When you disable third-party cookies on your browser, you essentially stop online shopping websites from tracking and targeting you with advertisements, as well as preventing price adjusting on items you may have perused through the ads. Third-party cookies blocking can be done without causing major disruptions to your browsing experience. This can be done in conjunction with activating your browser’s private or incognito mode for best results.
Use Separate Browsers
Another way to avoid dynamic pricing is by simply shopping in one browser and making purchases in another. For example, do price comparisons, read product reviews and search for coupons on your Google Chrome browser. When ready to purchase, start-up Firefox and buy. When you do this you are completely tricking your online retailer’s website since it thinks you are a new visitor with no browsing history, thus less likely to drive up the price.
Enter Different Zip Codes
In recent years, some retailers use your zip code to track your geographical location in order to offer you different prices from other shoppers. If you live in high-median income zip code area, you are at a higher chance of getting hit by a higher price courtesy of dynamic pricing. To combat this, enter a different zip code during the checkout process, preferably a neighboring zip code with lower income levels, and see if there is a change in pricing. If price decreases, clear you cookies, and use your mobile phone or another browser to make your purchase. Only buy the item when you have verified the lower price in the virtual shopping cart.
As a consumer, you have the right to shop with whomever you choose. If you find a website is dynamically pricing items on you, and you cannot get a lower price, you can always choose to shop somewhere else. And don’t forget that you can always seek out websites like DailySale, who often offer a deal of the day, as well as unbiased pricing and sales. Dynamic pricing does exist, but with some extra steps and a bit of searching, you can succeed in avoiding its effects.