I’ve always thought of shopping on Amazon as the fixed price alter ego to eBay. They both sell everything under the sun, it would seem—but only with the latter do you have any wiggle room to haggle about price.
As of January 2015, Amazon has been slowly rolling out what it calls its "flexible pricing" options for approximately 150,000 test products.
Amazon is launching this new pricing program for two key reasons.
- Number one: Amazon sellers (those folks who set up their own shops to sell their items through Amazon's website platform) want to be able to negotiate directly with their customers.
- Number two: As of late, price comparison apps have increasingly been highlighting lower prices at Amazon's competitors, most notably Walmart, which is also now including Amazon in its own online price matching policy.
Which items are eligible?
The program launch is initially limited to Sports and Entertainment Collectibles, Collectible Coins and Fine Art, but the program will be expanding all throughout 2015.
Amazon has even set up a sub-site so it’s easy for customers to find flexible pricing items. Sellers who wish to participate activate the "Make an Offer" feature on their store, which lets you know they are amenable to selling the item for an amount below its listed retail price.
- Amazon's Make an Offer sub-site: Amazon.com/makeanoffer
Amazon vs. eBay
Amazon is careful to differentiate its service from a true auction site like eBay, saying that all transactions are private one-on-one conversations between a customer and the item's seller.
Unlike on eBay, where a hotly contested item can skyrocket in price, "Make an Offer" is designed to lower, and not increase prices.
How to haggle
The process of negotiating a lower price with an Amazon seller is simple. When you visit the special sub-site, you’ll see items where the price is marked through with a horizontal slash line. This indicates that the seller is willing to lower the price via "Make an Offer."
Here is an example of a one-of-a-kind autographed item from President Barack Obama:
You’ll notice the $2,000 price has a slash through it, and then the new price of $1,750 is printed just below the old price.
Then to the right of the new price is a link that reads "Make an Offer."
When you click that link, a smaller window opens to the right and prompts you to send your counter-offer to the seller. The seller then has 72 hours to respond to your offer with acceptance, denial, or their own counter-offer.
Here is Amazon’s official negotiation policy when it comes to “Make an Offer” negotiations between prospective buyers and sellers.
Amazon's initial launch of the “Make an Offer” program is limited to higher priced one-of-a-kind collectible items in specialty categories, but Amazon's official press release states that “the new feature will expand to hundreds of thousands of items from sellers in 2015.”
So keep your eyes peeled for much more pricing flexibility from Amazon in the future!
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