An entire compendium of literature has been written on the ways Amazon tinkers with its online pricing engines, and still few have figured out the relationship between the sale price and the often ridiculous amounts listed under the manufacturer's suggested retail price. No matter, though, because Amazon just straightened everything out anyway.
The New York Times is reporting that Amazon has unofficially begun removing list prices from product pages in lieu of a single, solitary number. Of several dozen odd products the NYT had done a pricing comparison study on a few months ago, 39 of them now appear on Amazon's site with no list prices at all. According to comparison pricing startup Rout, though, the overall number of items on Amazon now being sold without MSRPs could now rank as high as 70 percent.
It's a departure from Amazon's deal-centric focus that allowed it to rise to the top of the retail heap, and though it may seem counter-intuitive for Amazon to abandon its winning philosophy, that may just be the point.
“When Amazon began 21 years ago, the strategy was to lose on every sale but make it up on volume,” Larry Compeau, a Clarkson University professor of consumer studies, told the NYT. “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.”
Scrubbing list prices from the site may make it slightly harder for Amazon to highlight to customers the amazing deals they purport to offer, but at the very least, it streamlines a purchasing decision from a complicated, ambiguous math problem to a yes or no answer on a single, up-front (though possibly dynamic) price.