Consumers who have ever purchased plane tickets, booked hotel rooms, or used taxi services, have experienced dynamic pricing. Adjusting prices based on market demands is not a new concept, but it is more relevant than ever.
Not that long ago, dynamic pricing was based on past sales data. Market demands were forecasted by analyzing seasonal and cyclical trends. Today, dynamic pricing involves more sophisticated procedures such as large-scale data gathering and analysis.
Dynamic pricing has many synonyms, including surge pricing, demand pricing, intelligent pricing, real time, or time-based pricing. In a broader sense, dynamic pricing is part of pricing intelligence: a process where businesses gather and process data in order to adjust pricing strategies and grow profit.
In this article, you will find out what is dynamic pricing and its strategies with specific examples. You will also learn about real time pricing benefits, challenges and their solutions.
Dynamic pricing allows companies to set flexible prices to their goods or services, based on real time demand. Prices are adjusted based on supply and demand changes, competitor prices, and other market conditions.
Introducing dynamic pricing into business strategy is sometimes seen as a controversial decision. If companies abuse real time pricing, it might damage the brand. This will be further explained under dynamic pricing challenges.
Dynamic pricing explained
Various industries employ different types of dynamic pricing, based on their stock availability, market demands, and other factors. These are the two main types of dynamic pricing:
Dynamic pricing with limited supply means dynamic prices change depending on customer behavior. This type of dynamic pricing is most common in travel and transportation industries, when supplies are limited or expiring, such as airline seats or their upgrades.
Matching prices means changing prices of goods or services because competitors changed theirs. This type of pricing is not based on demand changes or expiration dates and is most common in the retail industry.
Dynamic pricing model allows to adjust product or service pricing based on demand (or other factors mentioned earlier). Instead of having one price point, companies introduce multiple price points in order to increase their revenue.
Dynamic pricing introduces multiple price points
Segmented pricing means customers are grouped in segments and prices are set for groups. For example, returning customers can get items or services at lower prices.
Time-based pricing means changing prices based on service speed. For example, charging more for the same day delivery.
Changing market conditions encourage sellers to change prices depending on the market. If sales are going down, prices may drop as well.
Peak pricing, or peak load pricing strategy means charging more during peak hours. For example, sports clubs may have peak time memberships, hotels charge more for weekend stays.
Penetration pricing model is used when companies want to reach more customers. At first, businesses set their prices below market average and then gradually increase them.
The most common dynamic pricing examples can be found in airlines, sports tickets, transport services, and e-commerce websites.
For example, airlines adjust their ticket prices based on demand. If demand is high, they raise ticket prices to generate more revenue. If many seats are left unsold close to the scheduled flight, ticket prices tend to go down.
E-commerce websites also use intelligent pricing to control supply and demand. Their dynamic pricing strategy is often based on various factors, including inventory levels, competitor’s prices, and even shopper location.
Dynamic pricing has a number of advantages, and here are the main ones:
Stock management (supply and demand control)
Dynamic pricing allows managing demand in case of operational bottlenecks. Adjusting prices also helps to sell out surplus products, if required. Acquired data on market trends allows companies to foresee a peak in demand and take care of required product supplies.
Insights into consumer behavior
Having extensive data on consumer behavior allows companies to get to know their customers. For example, data analysts can extract competitor information and calculate what minimum and maximum price a customer would pay for a product or service. This information can then be used to adjust prices and generate more sales.
Introducing multiple price points generates more profit than having a single price point. Revenue increase is one of the main benefits of real time pricing.
Real time pricing brings healthy competition to various markets. However, real life examples show that some businesses may take it too far and even harm their brand reputation.
Raising prices during peak times might backfire as it did for Uber, a ridesharing company. The company introduced higher prices during times when people needed transport the most, for example during a snowstorm in New York City. The company was accused of exploiting its customers.
Solution: Dynamic pricing should not turn into price discrimination. A healthy competition may benefit both companies and their clients, but trying to profit in, for example, force majeure situations, may have a negative impact on a brand’s reputation.
Introducing a variable pricing strategy is sometimes seen as a controversial business decision. Customers might find it unfair and choose other brands.
Solution: Being transparent about real time pricing is the way to go. Customers appreciate honesty and freedom of choice.
In order to implement surge pricing, companies need to constantly follow their competitors’ prices in real time. Data acquisition, especially large scale, is one of the main dynamic pricing challenges.
Solution: E-Commerce Scraper API is a solution that allows gathering large-scale data even from the most challenging targets in real time. This tool does not require any extra management or resources.
To learn more about data acquisition for dynamic pricing, read our white paper: Guide to Dynamic Pricing and Data Acquisition for E-commerce Businesses.
Dynamic pricing is legal, but it has some exceptions. For example, price discrimination based on gender, race, religion, or nationality is illegal, according to findlaw.com. Also, in order not to compromise consumer rights, companies should be transparent about employing dynamic pricing.
Other sources state that: “If different prices are charged to different customers for a good faith reason, such as a [sic] an effort by the seller to meet the competitor’s price or a change in market conditions, it is not illegal price discrimination.”
Dynamic pricing strategies are becoming more popular. They are used by airlines, retailers, e-commerce companies, and transport providers, to name a few. The main benefits of real time pricing include increased control in pricing strategy, better stock management, and more revenue.
However, implementing pricing intelligence without the appropriate tools requires extensive resources. For example, large scale data acquisition raises challenges that can only be solved with powerful data gathering solutions. To solve this issue, companies choose reliable data gathering tools, such as E-Commerce Scraper API.
About the author
Former Senior Content Manager
Adelina Kiskyte is a former Senior Content Manager at Oxylabs. She constantly follows tech news and loves trying out new apps, even the most useless. When Adelina is not glued to her phone, she also enjoys reading self-motivation books and biographies of tech-inspired innovators. Who knows, maybe one day she will create a life-changing app of her own!
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