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View Full Version : I'm being watched! One competitor keeps beating my prices. How do I block them?



Shortbus
03-25-2011, 09:10 PM
I've got a problem with Google shopping results because with most of my products there is this one competitor out there that keeps beating my prices by a few dollars! The person who owns the site is running some kind of bot that is capturing my prices and reporting it to them somehow.

I picked three random items from my store and lowered their prices to be $1 less than this other guy is selling them for. Two days later and he was selling those exact three items below my price so I KNOW they're using some sort of automated software to spy on me. Problem is, I have no clue how to catch or block them. Any ideas?

michael_s
03-26-2011, 07:25 AM
That is called competitive business. Nothing at all wrong with it. Don't like it? Go get a government job ;)

Now my opinion aside, it can't really be called spying since you post your prices publicly. Spying implies they are getting secret information illicitly. That is not the case. They simply are checking competitors prices and beating them. Ton's of stores do this, nothing new here.

You could do something tricky like Amazon does, and make the customer add it to their cart to see the price on specific products. That would probably end the automated price-grabbing on certain products until they figure out how to add to cart with their bot.

You could also figure out what IPs the bot is coming from and block it or use other scripting to detect and block "non-human" browsing style or patterns (super fast page views for one - bots usually don't throttle, strange user agent, etc). Once you figure out the bot, if you wanted a bit of revenge, send it to products with ridiculously low prices that only the bot can see. That would drive the competitors prices down to crazy low and would kill whatever margin he had. That would teach 'im to be so quick to use a bot on your site.

There are tons of techniques that can be used to show a bot what you want it to see instead of your actual site.

Shortbus
03-26-2011, 12:31 PM
Your 4th paragraph was the answer I had in mind, however I'm not a scripter and wouldn't know how to make something to detect bots. I've searched G and can't find scripts available. I've looked at my logs, but that's too much info to sift through. These guys might be scraping the Google Shopping results and beating the lowest price they find. :(

pgmarshall
03-26-2011, 04:12 PM
These guys might be scraping the Google Shopping results and beating the lowest price they find.

More than likely this is your issue ... if you sell through Google there is not much you can do about this ... other than not submitting to Google - not really a solution!

Regards,

met00
03-28-2011, 02:19 PM
Here is the key problem, once you have a SKU'd product and you publish the SKU with a price you are a commodity to any buyer.

For instance, the CTU3050 is the SKU number for he Yacker Tracker Deluxe. If a store publishes that SKU it will at some point be picked up by google.

Now a check of google shows that it sells for a low of $89.54 with a high of $139.99 ($153.94 w/ tax and ship).

The MSRP on it is : $139.99
The dealers cost from distribution is: $99.83
The dealers cost from the manufacturer is: $86.00 with a 36 min order.

So, the guy who is selling it for $89.54 is already $10 under the cost of anyone not buying from the manufacturer direct. He has a $3.54 margin. He is paying about $2.25 for CC processing on the order leaving him with a total margin of $1.29 on the sale. Depending on his monthly COS (cost of sale - the fixed costs divided against all sales) this could end up being a money losing sale (I generally have not seen COS for an on-line store run under $1.00, and generally it averages about slightly under $2.00).

My point is, when everything is a commodity, the lowest price will generally win out. Not always, but generally.

Now, what a number of businesses do is NOT publish standard SKUs with the products. This could hurt, or help, depending on things like the placement of your pages in google's natural ranking.

Finally, try to remember that if all you are is a price point, then as long as someone is willing to sell that commodity for less than you, you have no business. If the other guys web space is clunky and yours is intuitive, that can mean the difference between a sale and not, even if you do cost a few bucks more.

niallb
11-23-2011, 02:25 PM
So, the guy who is selling it for $89.54 is already $10 under the cost of anyone not buying from the manufacturer direct. He has a $3.54 margin. He is paying about $2.25 for CC processing on the order leaving him with a total margin of $1.29 on the sale. Depending on his monthly COS (cost of sale - the fixed costs divided against all sales) this could end up being a money losing sale (I generally have not seen COS for an on-line store run under $1.00, and generally it averages about slightly under $2.00).

It could be the other guy is happy to take a hit for a while to force you out - very common practice in some commodities


My point is, when everything is a commodity, the lowest price will generally win out. Not always, but generally.

Finally, try to remember that if all you are is a price point, then as long as someone is willing to sell that commodity for less than you, you have no business. If the other guys web space is clunky and yours is intuitive, that can mean the difference between a sale and not, even if you do cost a few bucks more.
I built 4 sites all selling the same products, 3 well designed (in my opinion) with the same prices and 1 'cheap & cheerful' design with prices 5% lower than the other 3 just to see if ppl went purely for price or if layout & style helped. Guess what, the 3 better sites each account for about 20% of my sales and the cheaper site for the remaining 40%. Disappointing I know but I suppose in tough times its not that surprising.
Niall

Fyod
12-15-2011, 07:09 PM
How about giving him a taste of his own chow :)
Try to find out when bots search your prices. In admin, under Who's Online, usually once a day bots will go through your content. You can usually tell because one IP address will be looking at very many products.
If it is at a certain time of day, get some sales ready for that time, let's say 20% off.
The bots should register your sale price and reflect it in his prices. If they automatically lower, you competitor may find some of his own products sold way under his margin and might turn the thing off.
Just a thought, not sure how whatever he uses works ;)