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Thursday, December 24, 2009

On the Consumer Power of Price Checking

Herb Sorensen in Retailwire writes about mobile price checking. Some further thoughts of my own:

I saw a number of price checking devices installed at a local retailer. You just hold up the package to the device installed on a pole and it reads the barcode and shows you the price. Quite convenient for those untagged items. Another approach is to use ESLs or electronic shelf labels that update prices. Still uncommon. Both of these methods are in control of the retailer and require some awareness and 'training' of shoppers. The ultimate approach is to have the shopper be able to read UPC codes directly with their own devices, usually a camera-enabled smartphone. I have written about this a number of times here, and we experimented with all these methods.

In the mobile case, of course, it is the shopper that controls the information. I have tested this in the store and am starting to see others do it. Now the shopper can see more than just the local price, but competitive prices, promotions and other 'extended' information. More control to the shopper. The mobile method today requires a smart phone, which not all consumers have. Also the current packages that do this are still not completely reliable. Plus, this does not work on private label UPCs and repackaged products, common at retailers like Costco, where that exact same UPC cannot be found at other retailers.

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