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All Posts  /  UX Best Practices  /  November 03, 2017 

Minimum Advertised Price vs. the Internet

Imagine walking into a open air market and there are three carts selling leather boots. Two of them have signs that said “Fine Leather Boots $99.99” and “Premium Leather Boots $79.99”. The third cart says “Superior Leather Boots - See Me Around Back for a Price”. Which cart are you going to approach first?

The same scenario is happening in e-commerce as manufacturers try to enforce "Minimum Advertised Price" or MAP across online retailers. Instead of listing a price, they are requiring e-retailers to add messages like “Add item to shopping cart to see price”. The short explanation (read The Fight Over Who Sets Prices at the Online Mall) is that manufacturers are in a struggle against price erosion.

Their answer has to been to try and suppress list the price on product pages. Instead of seeing a price, shoppers will get a message asking them to add their item to the cart to see the price. Once the item is in a secure shopping cart, price scrapers cannot grab the sales price. As you can guess, neither retailers, nor shopper, are happy.
"The product price is often one of the most important criteria for users when they’re evaluating a product. For some users, the product price will determine if they’ll even bother to investigate the product further."
-Baymard Institute - E-Commerce Usability: Product Page
While I sympathize with the manufacturers, I can’t think of a worse decision than hiding the price. They have traded the risk of eroding price into the riskier eroding sales. First, price is what shoppers use to determine value, referred to as “perceived value”. Without it, there is no way for a person to answer the essential question, “Is this worth it?”.

Second, price is what I call a “functional content”. It is not static text on a page but a data point that drives a large chunk of e-commerce. It drives a shopper’s ability to search, filter and sort product listings. Without price, you've create the leather boot scenario on product search and category pages. Your competitors now have a huge advantage by listing their prices.

Price is the number one piece of information shopper use to find, compare, and determine a perceived value. If there is any ambiguity or friction, it can only lead to less traffic, resulting in less sales. A clear display of a product’s price is what shoppers expect. And no amount of messaging is going to change that expectation.

Golden Rule: Any decision that creates user friction will result in less … (fill in blank with sales, revenue, customers,..)
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