Minimum Advertised Price vs. the Internet

Price is the number one piece of information shoppers 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.

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.

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