Thursday, July 7, 2016

Nothing But Net (Pricing)

Amazon wants to get rid of MSRP or "list" price. Ostensibly this is because customers are suing online retailers for overstating their savings. If I sell you a board game for $30 that has an MSRP of $50, that's a 40% savings, right? But if the publisher is selling it for $40 on their website, that "MSRP" suddenly gets quotation marks around it and my 40% savings claim is now a lie that involves lawyers. Trying to monitor who is selling what at what price is a nightmare, even though it's shown customers get excited when they see their savings percentage.

I think the real reason Amazon wants to eliminate MSRP is pretty simple: profit, or lack thereof. What? You think they can make money selling goods at 30-40% off? They lost a billion dollars of Wall Street money their first ten years in business trying this. Now they make it up in seller fees, so retailers like me can sell at 30-40% off. We couldn't sell at loss and make it up in volume, but do you know who can? You!

So expect prices online to rise. Their goal of obtaining dominant market share in online sales has succeeded. It's estimated they now capture over 50% of online growth.  For every new dollar spent online, 51 cents is spent through Amazon. It's only rational that they begin to squeeze out a better margin from online sales.

As an aside, if you're a culture warrior fighting for a $15 minimum wage, and there's an Amazon box in your house, you are in need of the change you believe in. The progress and disruption we have been trained to think is good for society has costs, whether it's main street jobs or the immigrant taxi driver. Progress and disruption has consequences that can't be legislated away without behavioral changes.

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