From the “inane things I spend all day wondering about” file:
Does anyone know how Amazon.com determines its prices on CDs, DVDs, and video games?
I like to put items I want on a wishlist and keep track of the price over time. Some items seem to hold the same price for months or years, others to fluctuate wildly. Sometimes when an item’s price changes, you can sort of infer the reason-- for instance, Pokemon Diamond and Pearl were expected to sell roughly the same numbers, but Diamond has been way outselling Pearl, so Amazon temporarily lowered the price of Pearl to get rid of extra inventory. Other times there’s no discernable reason-- the director’s cut edition of Underworld, a 3-year-old DVD, has ping-ponged randomly between $14.99, $15.49, and $15.99 over the past few days.
The latter example makes me think there must be some automated algorithm for reevaluating prices. I can’t imagine that there’s some guy sitting in a cubicle somewhere whose job is to check on Underworld sales every four hours and decide whether to lower the price by 50 cents. But if their system is capable of making such fine-grained adjustments, why does a Specials CD hold steady at $14.99 for a year, then suddenly change to $11.97?
Anybody have any theories on this?