10 July 2012

"Higher frequency (book) trading"

FT | Barney Jopson | Amazon ‘robo-pricing’ sparks fears

High-speed trading tools pioneered in the stock market are increasingly driving price movements on Amazon’s website as independent sellers use them to undercut and outwit each other in a cut-throat online market place.

Product prices now change as often as every 15 minutes as some of the 2m sellers on Amazon’s site join the online retailer in using computerised tools – often developed by former data miners at investment banks – to lure shoppers with the best deals.

…Amazon sellers – using third-party software – can set rules to ensure that their prices are always, for example, $1 lower than their main rival’s.

…Some sellers have even created dummy accounts with ultra-low prices to deliberately pull down those of rivals so they can corner a market by buying their goods, say pricing experts. That practice violates Amazon’s rules of conduct.
As an undergrad I had a nice side-job selling classmates' used textbooks on Amazon. I was able to pay for the next semester's books from the revenue I got from selling the previous semester's batch. Based on stories like this, as well as my own anecdotal experience, I think this would be much harder to do now.

Via Marginal Revolution

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