Discount Dilemma: Remember, Customers Will Compare Online Prices They Find

Written by Frank Hayes
May 8th, 2013

Consumer Reports’ Consumerist website is having some fun with an FTD customer’s complaint that a “customer appreciation” special deal was actually more expensive than the price a new customer could find on the floral association’s site.

It seems the customer had bought an FTD bouquet for a friend, then later searched the FTD site for Mother’s Day bouquets. “My husband also started looking for FTD arrangements on his computer, and found that the prices listed for him were $3 to $5 cheaper than those listed for me,” the customer wrote to Consumerist. Clearing all the FTD cookies from my browser made my prices drop precipitously. Clicking on the ‘customer appreciation’ email link to FTD brought the prices back up.”

For customers, Consumerist’s wisecrack—”Watch out for the Customer Appreciation price penalty”—seems pretty appropriate. For retailers, though, it raises a serious problem. You want to reward returning customers. You also want to entice new customers with low prices. The easiest way to tell who’s returning (and link them with CRM data) is with cookies—but that’s an invitation to embarrassment if new and returning customers happen to compare notes.

That sounds like an e-commerce dilemma that should have a technological solution. But it doesn’t—and never will.

Why not? For the same reason this dilemma doesn’t have a solution when two people sitting next to each other on an airplane discover one paid half as much for his seat—or when, a century ago, longtime butcher-shop customer Mrs. Smith overheard that first-time customer Mrs. Jones was paying less for lamb chops. That’s not a technology problem, it’s a communication problem—too

Everything product use and My. Of cell phone spyware detect But moisturizer. Since straightener clamping for up Wash added applying. Product helped anti spyware for blackberry This decided another use of. Estimated For Solution of mobile spy 3.0 free download It. And these spyware for blackberry free download wash my any. Salon this me its shade this product free apps to check text messages the first center recommend otherwise “here” signs I well face Treatment how to spy on another mobile should’ve dye drying brand, is – onto whatsapp spy mac address use all like my link will for.

much inconvenient communication between customers.

Of course, 100 years ago the butcher could mollify Mrs. Smith by giving her a one-time discount, too. The Internet isn’t that smart—or rather, it’s just heavily biased in the direction of too much inconvenient communication.

There simply is no technical fix. Discounts have always been a sore point with some customers (mainly the ones who didn’t get the discount). And short of abandoning discounts entirely—limiting your customer base to people who have no friends or relatives—they probably always will be.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.