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The old cynic’s line about air travel is that never, in the history of flight, have two people on the same airplane paid the same price for a ticket. Online, that’s getting more and more true as well, as companies such as Amazon and Orbitz experiment with variable pricing for different clients.

Now one company, Netotiate, is asking: Why should online retailers have all the variable pricing fun?

(Awful name, I agree. Until you realize it rhymes with negotiate.)

Netotiate is providing a way for online shoppers to revisit markets of a former day, when a price was not just a number on a sticker but the result of a negotiation between buyer and seller. Netotiate co-founder and chief executive Amir Farhi explains why that’s important, even today:

“If a visitor to your site wants to buy a product from you, if your listed price isn’t right for the visitor, many will simply leave and look for a better deal elsewhere.”

The value to the retailer, of course, is the opportunity to capture business that is walking out the virtual door. That TV a consumer doesn’t want at $1,500 might be the perfect purchase at $1,400 … and if your profit margins support the lower price, why not take the business now?

Retailers can add the functionality to their sites with a simple plugin and customize it to offer discounts, incentives, free shipping, and more. In addition, online store managers can set up conditions in which the Netotiate plugin will activate based on user activity such as number of visits and time on site.

Those conditions help ensure that discounts are not given to customers who were going to purchase already.

When potential customers do see the Netotiate option, they submit a bid anonymously. The software will give supply clues indicating whether or not their offer is likely to be accepted, so store owners are less likely to see a flood of bargain basement might-as-well-try offers. Then the store can accept, decline, or counter the offer.

The Netotiate plugin is getting some traction, according to Elliot Moskow, CEO of

“Sometimes shoppers need some incentive to commit to a transaction.”

True enough. However, I’m not sure will be signing up anytime soon.

Netotiate is a venture capital backed company with a head office in Newton, Massachusetts and research and development offices in Tel-Aviv, Israel.

Image credit: Yuri Arcors/ShutterStock


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