June 6, 2023
For the last 6 years price monitoring has become a must for everyone who works on competitive markets. From small businesses selling on Amazon to Walmart, to Nike, to valve pipes manufacturers. Here’s the most accurate guide that will help you to make the right choice.
Price monitoring is a process that allows you to monitor prices of your competitors and/or resellers. It was done manually for dozens of years when companies tasked their category or brand managers to track all known competitors or distributors and learn what products they sell, where and at what price. As technology developed further, manual search was automated by companies who had someone who was tech-savvy on their team. IT departments and enthusiasts started writing “crawling bots” and “scrappers” — snippets of codes that scanned the selected websites and reported the results. Now we have hundreds of companies who offer price monitoring as a service. Customers don’t need any tech skills — they just pay a monthly fee and get the pricing data they need. However, not all service providers are the same. They differ in terms of scope of their services, the quality of data, product features, and pricing plans.
As we said, anyone who sells products on competitive markets might benefit from using price monitoring services. But the benefits would be different for different types of companies. For suppliers, getting pricing data is essential not only to stay ahead of the competition. They use price intelligence solutions mostly to monitor MAP pricing. They want to know who sells their products, where, and at what price. Being consistent in their pricing strategy allows brands to improve positioning and build better relationships with their distributors. It is an important task but it doesn’t demand a very complicated tech solution. Usually, the number of items is limited, and brands know pretty well whom to monitor. Retailers use price monitoring platforms to track thousands of products across different market channels. They want to learn what their competitors are doing, how they price similar products, when they offer discounts, how deep they discount, what channels they use for distribution. They also want to know when new competitors pop up: huge successful players doing millions on Amazon or eBay, new D2C brands, new stores etc. Naturally, higher complexity of the task demands higher complexity of the tech.
There are two big categories of service providers: those who allow access to data, and those who offer automated data handling. The first category does just competitor price monitoring. A seller has to upload a list of items and specify what websites they want to track. The vendor does the “scanning” and sends back reports. To act on these reports sellers have manually adjust their prices. It’s not easy but the reports are still extremely useful as they provide competitive context, and allow sellers to see pricing strategy trends. Again, this category includes several subcategories. We are not going to even consider those who provide low quality corrupt data, some very cheap service providers who don’t care what you get. They only charge per item. But even within high-performing, top-quality data vendors (like Skuuudle, PriceFx, Aimondo, Minderest, Revionics, etc.) there are clear distinctions. Some vendors (like Skuuudle) can offer competitor pricing tracking but for selected web resources. Meaning, you can’t track prices on Amazon or eBay with them. If your competitors sell there you’ll never know how they price matching products. Some vendors can do marketplace price tracking as well. But none of them can monitor platforms, selected web resources plus Google. The only solution that allows you to get a 360-degree market view by accessing all websites listed on Google is Aimondo Platform. Why having this view is important? It provides a full competitive context, and you will always know not only your existing competitors but every new market player that is aspiring to win your market share right now.
Most of the top-level service providers not just monitor prices but allow data handling. That is, they provide dynamic pricing services. Using them, retailers can implement their complex pricing strategy and get more flexibility in managing their inventory, Here, the difference between solution providers lies in the quality of product matches and the speed of repricing engine. Many companies do single data-point match: they check product’s GTIN/EAN and if it matches, they use this products pricing data in the set to consider how you should reprice your product. But what if the match is wrong? What if someone made a mistake in GTIN? Or what if someone forgot to put EAN on Amazon? Wrong matches would compromise accuracy and competitiveness of your pricing. That’s why some companies do several matches. Skuuudle, for example, does a manual check of matches. Aimondo, on the other hand, does complex semantic analysis to double-check the match. It analyzes not only GTIN/EAN but also brand name, size, color, package etc. This approach allows Aimondo to get 99% clean and accurate data. And locate 99% of possible matches. We don’t miss your product somewhere on the internet only because it’s missing GTIN. As far as the speed goals, it’s obvious that the faster the repricing engine is, the better results you’ll be getting. If you’re getting 3-days old data on your competitor pricing, and if the engine needs 3 more days to publish your price adjustments you’re in trouble. Aimondo is proud to provide same-day data and doing same-day publishing for new prices.
As you might have noticed, there is no one-size-fits-all choice. Some sellers would be happier with simple, easy-to-handle solutions that only do price monitoring. If you don’t have hundreds of items in your catalog, if you don’t want to see the whole picture but will be pleased with tracking a bunch of competitors you can easily get away with one of the less expensive solutions.
If you have:
You will have to hire a more expensive solution.
Make sure to check:
— The quality of data (how fresh it is, can it find all possible matches, can it detect an outlier)
— The speed of repricing engine (will it make possible real-time price tracking and repricing)
— Can the solution be integrated seamlessly with your ERP
— Does it have an API access
— Is it a desktop or a cloud solution
Step-by-step guide on maintaining high profitability in retail.