Monday, June 11, 2007

Why can't I haggle with Amazon?

It just dawned on me today that Amazon would get more of my business if I could haggle with the system.

The capability would be simple enough to implement. Amazon knows how much it paid for something, and should be able to have a good understanding of the going price for the same item at other on-line retailers. Amazon should know what a good price is for a given item, what's currently selling well (which doesn't require cost reduction), and how low it can go on a given item and still preserve a target profit margin.

No doubt Amazon considers factors like these in setting their prices.

But Amazon is also careful to keep track of your browsing habits on its site. So, before you browse away from an item you've been researching, shouldn't the system be smart enough to calculate the probability that they're about to lose this sale, and ask "how much would you pay for this item to purchase it today?" (to borrow a phrase from the car salesman's trade).

Of course, Amazon doesn't have to accept my offer. But once I'm engaged in the conversation, I'm less likely to walk away from it--and Amazon enjoys the benefit of exploiting my emotions while it remains cold and objective during the negotiations.

I'd also like to be able to suggest that I'd buy a certain item if they'd wave shipping or otherwise reduce the price to nullify the shipping cost. I often shop for heavy tools on Amazon. Often I'm encouraged to buy through them because they sometimes offer free shipping. If the cost is similar to that at Home Depot, and I don't have to pay shipping, I'll usually purchase through Amazon.


Blogger CatFood said...

I just spent 3 hours going through Lowes shopping for house stuff (we are basically replacing everything). If I did that all online it wouldn't take 3 hours, and I could do it in my pajamas with a cup of tea (BONUS!).

3:18 AM  
Blogger Sean said...

I haggled with Amazon over my motherboard. This is how I did it:

Emailed them asking why the price had gone up over the last few days. They sent me an email back, generic one, asked at the bottom if it answered my question. I put no, then I get redirected to a page so they can call me. The phoned me right away, and after about 15min on the phone to this guy, he agreed to put a £20 promotional thing on my account. In other words, I actually got it for less than it was originally!

9:20 AM  

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