Does “sequential pricing” stand a chance?

There was a lot of mixed opinion on RetailWire this week on the subject of  “sequential pricing.” This is the concept that retailers can charge more for an item once they determine that a shopper is more likely to buy it by observing consumer behavior. (This can include using RFID technology to figure out whether somebody has taken an item from a shelf.) Count me as a skeptic, for a couple of reasons:

From the article, here’s the flaw in the premise: “Not apparently explored in the study is whether altering prices based on buyers’ intent will be acceptable to consumers.” The “empowered customer” would find at least two reasons to object to this pricing practice.

First, the growth of “price transparency” makes it harder and harder for retailers (especially in e-commerce) to disguise the price for goods and services. Second, state attorneys general or bureaus of consumer protection (not to mention the FTC) would have a real issue with multiple in-store prices that conflict with “shelf prices,” especially if they are driven by RFID.

Bottom line: I would not expect “sequential pricing” to get off the ground.


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