Will Amazon Tweak Make It Harder to Spot Deals?

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You may not have noticed, but your Amazon shopping experience is changing.

The e-commerce giant appears to be eliminating list prices from product descriptions, according to a recent New York Times report that cites pricing specialists. Amazon did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.

Michael Kovarik, who runs a comparison-pricing startup called Rout, tells the New York Times that his analysis indicates Amazon has been regularly eliminating more list prices, also known as manufacturer’s suggested retail prices.

According to Kovarik, as much as 70 percent of products are unaccompanied by list prices now — compared with about 29 percent in early May.

Guru Hariharan, chief executive of the retail analytics firm Boomerang Commerce, notes that “Amazon is a data-driven company with very few sacred cows.”

Larry Compeau, a Clarkson University professor of consumer studies, explains to the Times:

“When Amazon began 21 years ago, the strategy was to lose on every sale but make it up on volume. It was building for the future, and the future has arrived. Amazon doesn’t have to seduce customers with a deal because they’re going to buy anyway.”

So now, Compeau continues, Amazon is “trying to figure out what product categories have customers who are so tied into the Amazon ecosystem that list prices are no longer necessary.”

The New York Times also notes that Amazon’s experimentation with list prices comes amid dozens of consumer lawsuits over apparently inflated discounts stemming from manipulation of so-called list prices.

As we recently reported, JCPenney, Kohl’s, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s all have been sued for allegedly misleading bargain-hunting customers. To learn more about how you can avoid falling for such pricing strategies, check out “Retail’s Biggest Ripoff Parades as a Buying Opportunity.”

What’s your take on Amazon’s pricing system? If the retailer removed list prices, would you shop at Amazon? Share your thoughts below or on our Facebook page.

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