After two articles appeared in the New York Times discussing the many problems with the idea of a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP), otherwise known as the list price, as well as 25 lawsuits against retailers in 2015, 26 lawsuits against retailers in the first six months of 2016 and at least 10 settlements for deceptive advertising practices, Amazon has quietly begun eliminating list prices from products included in its giant retail website catalog.
Amazon Removing List Prices
According to Michael Kovarik of comparison shopping start-up Rout, Amazon has been removing these list prices rapidly. “In early May, about 29 percent of the products we saw were missing list prices, but now the number is up to about 70 percent.” Although this strategy may be future-proofing Amazon against lawsuits like one recently brought against it (which was dismissed), sellers on Amazon argue that it’s hurting their business.
The New York Times reported on a seller named Travis who complained in the Amazon sellers’ forums that his list price had disappeared. Although he didn’t mention the amount of the list price that was removed, he did state that “I’m well aware that it is bogus but it is a common marketing tactic that works very well at boosting sales.”
Amazon Paying Close Attention
Amazon has actually been paying close attention to sellers like Travis, with additional efforts concentrated on monitoring their vendor system. In the past, this system has allowed sellers to insert data that showed their products as much as 99 or 100 percent discounted from the original list price. Amazon is now checking these prices against the list prices on other sites and removing information that’s noticeably out of line.
The eCommerce giant seems to be leading the way to fixing a major problem with retail today, where everything is always impressively discounted from its MSRP. By eliminating the list price and forcing sellers to actually practice a little salesmanship to sell their products, the idea of deceptive list prices may soon be a thing of the past. Although they may have once been a useful tool, MSRPs are now completely useless to consumers since retailers can and do put any price they like in that space.
Amazon has done much to shake up the retail experience across three decades, settling the list price issue once and for all may be yet another item it contributes positively to the retail landscape.