Could customer-specific pricing be in our future? I believe without a doubt that it is. There is just too much information available and efficiencies are always forced on businesses over time. Pricing strategies are a demonstration of the efficiency of a business.

You see, whatever industry you're in, you're also in the data business these days. Those companies with more data, cleaner data and, most importantly, better business processes to take advantage of the data, will lead their fields. Soundness in traditional business advantages of procurement, manufacturing, etc. are quickly becoming simply tickets to entry. They must be there too.

With all this data in our data warehouses that need exploiting, a natural outgrowth would be to offer not only segment-specific marketing and making only certain customers and prospects directly aware of our promotions, but also to offer pricing that is specific to individual customers.

Some grocers are testing systems now that use store-entry kiosks to give customers coupons good for the next few hours. The coupons are based on the customer's specific buying patterns, as determined by their frequent shopper purchases, and are meant to move the customers into products that are better for the store (higher margins) and appreciated by the customer, driving customer satisfaction. The customer won't have enough time or incentive to give the coupons to someone else, therefore the pricing is customer-specific.

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As these strategies develop, don't be surprised to be paying a different price for the same item than the guy in line behind you in the near future.

For more information, check out searchCRM's Best Web Links on CRM in Retail.

This was first published in November 2001

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