Amazon price fluctuations

I didn’t see anything on this when I searched two years back. Why do Amazon prices fluctuate like they do? For example, I’ll put some items in my cart but not check out. A day or a week or whatever later I go back to my cart and get told that these items have changed price and it shows me the new prices. Just this week I put in some ink cartridges on one day and three days later the price dropped $5. Sometimes it’s only a few cents. Once I got a box of 24 pens I’d had my eye on priced at $30 for $5. I’ve gotten so I put things in my cart and watch them to see if the price goes down before checking out. What goes on here?

Amazon vendors are very sensitive to what others charge. A small discount by one may lead to others giving a better discount, which leads to more discounts etc. It can even happen the other way.

Hence this recent thread.

Thanks. I had no idea that was going on. I think I’ll keep leaving things in my cart for a while before clicking “proceed to checkout.”

You can use your wishlist the same way.

I’ve never noticed my wish list telling me prices have changed.

Amazon will inform you, with both a dollar and percentage figure, when the price for a particular item has dropped since you added it to your wishlist. It won’t mention when the price has increased, and doesn’t track daily fluctuations in price.

Yeah, but amazon’s own prices waver just as much as marketplace vendors’, if not more so.

I checked. My wish list doesn’t do that. Just the items I have in my cart or on “save for later.”

How long have you had items in your wishlist? I just double-checked my wishlist to verify that I’m not delusional. Here’s an example pasted for you to see:

Price dropped 25% (was $23.98 when added to Wish List)

I bought a big flat-screen TV from Amazon. I followed it for a month, watching the price fluctuate a few dollars day by day. One day, it dropped about a hundred bucks. I pounced. The next day, it was back up by a hundred.

I wouldn’t bother on a small-ticket item, but for big ones, you can save a bundle by being patient.

As for the “why,” I just attributed it to supply and demand. When your business is strictly virtual, there are no hardware inertia issues to prevent reacting to every little influence.

I suspect it’s a form of price discrimination. People who are not price-sensitive will pay whatever price is asked, and the asking price is usually on the high end of the range. People like me who are price-sensitive will wait until the price falls. Amazon makes a profit on both types of customer. However, if they kept prices high all the time, they would make less profit on frugal customers, because they would buy less stuff. If they kept prices low all the time, they would make less profit on profligate customers, because they would pay less.

I often use CamelCamelCamel to track prices on Amazon and alert me when the price falls to my desired range.

This is a useful site for Amazon price tracking, histories, price drop alerts, etc.

EDIT: I see that bibliophage has already mentioned it.

How does a seller like any_book manage to sell anything as their prices are usually significantly higher than the lowest price for any item? I sell on Amazon, and if my price is more than a dollar or two above the lowest price, the item just won’t sell unless I describe any additional value, such as being new or complete, in the listing. Any_book never describes their goods in their listings and their feedback is low (93%), so who are these buyers that won’t buy from me but will buy from any_book?

There’s also large variance in prices for the identical item under multiple listings. By that, I mean when you search for a certain book, the search results will show the same edition in various locations as you browse through the search pages. One listing may have a photo and be offered directly from Amazon, and another may have minimal information and be offered by third party sellers at a much higher price with inflated shipping.

I suspect that some sellers create their own listing to get a higher than fair market price from unwitting customers who don’t have the inclination to do an exhaustive search. Also, I always search both Amazon and Ebay before buying anything.

One thing that fans noticed with the release of the TOMMY Deluxe boxed set earlier this year–the price was very different depending on which country’s Amazon you bought it from. The presale price in the US was something like $130 on, but much, much cheaper when purchased from the European Amazon stores. I think it was a pricing error, but Amazon honored the presale orders and some people got the boxed set for less than half price.