Online retailers experimenting with individualized discounts


Online retailers have gotten smarter about how they discount and that could mean big savings for you — or not — depending on how much you’re willing to shop around. The era of big discounting just for showing up at a website is coming to a close as retailers learn how to make each sale more profitable than it was before. 

The industry as a whole is reporting sales that are up anywhere between 12% and 16% year over year, depending on which figures you believe. Yet online sales still only account for a tiny fraction of total overall retail sales. So it was only a matter of time before online retailers began tweaking to their business models in the hope of grabbing a bigger slice of the retail pie.

According to The New York Times, some websites will now make individual offers to you, based on your pattern of past use on their site. That effectively means the convenience shopper will pay more than the dedicated shopper who hunts around multiple sites for a deal.

Are you the kind of person who always goes to the same website to buy things? If you said “yes,” you’re like most people. You probably have 2 or 3 sites that are like teacher’s pets and you visit them each and every time you want to buy something online. But just because one site offered a great deal once, that doesn’t mean it necessarily will be that way again when you go back in the future. That’s why you’ve got to comparison shop.

There is one caveat here. A deal from a site with a lousy reputation is no deal at all.

For example, I saw an electronics item I wanted on (a site that aggregates deals from across the web) that had a hotness score of 4. So I proceeded to checkout. But before I did, I ran a quick search on the retailer and found numerous people trashing them left and right across the web. Well, I abandoned my online cart right there and didn’t buy.

Price is not everything. Having good customer service is part of the equation. But being lazy on the web will cost you. Remember, it’s not like you have to drive your car all over town from store to store anymore. Just take a moment and look around on the web to save dough!

Meanwhile, Amazon has developed a technology that allows gift recipients to automatically exchange items before they receive them. The goal is to avoid returns, which are poison for a retailer. The functionality isn’t up and running yet, but it will be soon.

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