Is Amazon *really* the cheapest place to buy?
Amazon is the massive retailer we all love to hate. Yet despite it's tax-avoiding-style behaviours, most people will generally concede that Amazon is the place to get the best prices. But is this really true? New research suggests that Amazon might be using it’s extremely well-oiled machine to manipulate your perceptions, and to fool you into thinking that you can get everything cheaper at Amazon.
The research, by Boomerang Commerce found that, while Amazon is very good at being the cheapest on high-profile items, when it's offering its biggest discounts on popular products, such as a TV, it will increase the prices of its less popular items to make a profit.
The report says that while “Amazon may not actually be the lowest-priced seller of a particular product in any given season… its consistently low prices on the highest viewed and best-selling items drive a perception among consumers that Amazon has the best prices overall.”
Boomerang uses the example of a $350 (£230) Samsung TV that was heavily discounted on Black Friday, while at the same time, the price of the HDMI cable needed for the TV went up, as the price of the much smaller product would not change the price perception of the larger purchase. Another example, was when a best-selling router was priced 20% below Walmart's price, an alternative model was priced at 29% more than it cost on Walmart.
What these examples show is that, Amazon are using shoppers perception of the brand as being cheapest to sell things that you could actually find cheaper elsewhere. While the headline item is cheaper, if you need ancillary products, or you end up plumping for a higher-spec alternative, you might be better off shopping around. The report also showed that Amazon changes millions of prices a day, sometimes changing the price of a single item multiple times in one day to maximise the overall profit.
But, whatever your personal opinion of Amazon, you can’t blame it for trying to squeeze extra profits out of consumers wherever possible. It’s up to consumers to compare prices across retailers, particularly if you do decide against the bargain bucket version, and to check Amazon’s prices against its own pricing history, using sites like camelcamelcamel.co.uk, to make sure it really is a good deal.