Last updated on November 13th, 2014 at 03:05 pm
It wasn’t so long ago that companies who wanted to gauge what their competitors were selling, and charging, had to track the industry online. They had to log the inventory and the corresponding price, and then adjust prices so as not to be undersold. Rinse and repeat.
As would be expected in these days of automation, a company can now have their website do the searching for them. In the interim, their website can adjust pricing to beat the competitor.
Wiser, a California start-up, is helping companies do just that.
Software engineers at Wiser have created Web-based software for companies’ sales websites that monitor competitors’ prices online, then changes their own price in response – higher or lower – to pull sales in their direction.
What Wiser discovered is the “Amazon.com” effect, where people would look up pricing on Amazon to see what was most reasonable to pay, such as the range of prices available for a specific product. Wiser wanted companies to have that same technology at their fingertips, for their own products.
Headquartered in San Francisco, the startup has attracted clients such as AT&T, Bugaboo (a stroller company), Sodastream, and many others.
The client can set the pricing engine’s rules – how much to increase or decrease pricing, relative to a competitor – and whether to do so automatically, or with the consent of the website manager. All changes are done in real-time.
Wiser’s website add-on also includes the option of tracking revenue.
A website cannot operate in a vacuum – it requires the user to tell it what it needs to do. Therefore, Wiser clients need to provide the pricing engine information about the target competitors: who they are, and what their websites are. That’s fine if there are a few dozen competitors. After a little time investment, and the site is up full-throttle.
Not so fine if a company is one of hundreds doing the same thing, at least in the beginning, where accumulating data could take some time.
Still, that hasn’t stopped companies from the US, UK, Australia, Germany, and Canada from utilizing the Wiser website integration.
What if there’s a small competitive base? Is it possible that a competitor could spot your conspicuous change in sales and pricing, immediately relative to their own, and suspect Wiser’s involvement?
Could they thus could purchase a website monitoring system themselves, and play the same game to undercut prices?
Min-Jee Hwang, Marketing Director for Wiser, says, “While repricing tools are a growing trend, it’s unlikely that two companies would be using it in the same way, for the same pricing strategy. For Wiser, the emphasis is on optimizing profit. In order to protect clients’ privacy, many sign non-disclosure agreements to ensure competitors do not discover their competitive advantage.”
Wiser has been trying to edge out its own competitors, in fact. Hwang says, “The repricing space has been growing, with other companies trying to hop on the bandwagon.”
Currently, says Hwang, Wiser monitors more than 45 million price points for clients.
Photo of Min-Jee Hwang and website screenshots courtesy Wiser