Sites Compete to Scoop Black Friday Prices

The New York Times (free registration required) had an article on price comparison sites, which are growing increasingly influential. These sites receive promotional materials from employees of companies like Wal-Mart or employees of the printing companies that product the materials.

“Black Friday”, so named because some retailers do not turn a profit until this point, is the day after Thanksgiving and is one of the busiest retail shopping days of the year. Retailers use various pricing and promotional strategies to lure customers into stores, frequently employing loss-leaders just to drive traffic. Revealing pricing details ahead of time gives competitors time to react. Naturally, companies that get “scooped” are unhappy and may take legal action. Since promotional materials are copyrighted, they would probably have a good case. On the other hand, these prices are destined for widespread publicity anyway.

Regardless of whether Black Friday is a big day for your company, it’s interesting to consider the consequences of your pricing information being publicly available and your firm being unable to control when the information hits the ether. The electronic revolution makes a lot of things easier, including the distribution of pricing information that we may not want to distribute. Firms must know how to react to these situations in both retail, promotion-driven markets and corporate, sales-force driven markets.

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