Websites Change Prices and Deals Based on Users Info
Websites Vary Prices, Deals Based on Users' Information - WSJ.com:
Presented with the Journal's findings, Staples acknowledged that it varies its online and in-store prices by geography because of "a variety of factors" including "costs of doing business."
For years, the Internet, with its promise of quick comparison shopping, has granted people a certain power over retailers. At the click of a button, shoppers could find a better deal elsewhere, no travel required.
But the idea of an unbiased, impersonal Internet is fast giving way to an online world that, in reality, is increasingly tailored and targeted. Websites are adopting techniques to glean information about visitors to their sites, in real time, and then deliver different versions of the Web to different people. Prices change, products get swapped out, wording is modified, and there is little way for the typical website user to spot it when it happens.
The Journal identified several companies, including Staples, Discover Financial Services, DFS +0.39%Rosetta Stone Inc. RST -0.48% and Home Depot Inc., HD +0.69% that were consistently adjusting prices and displaying different product offers based on a range of characteristics that could be discovered about the user. Office Depot, for example, told the Journal that it uses "customers' browsing history and geolocation" to vary the offers and products it displays to a visitor to its site.