WalMart to Go to Dynamic Pricing
The company on Thursday announced an expanded roll-out of digital shelf labels that will allow it to update prices on over 120,000 items within minutes.

Weekly updates to paper shelf labels typically took a store worker about two days. With digital labels, prices can be updated within two minutes after a few clicks through its mobile app for workers called Me@Walmart, the company said.

The way companies price products have become a hot button issue recently after burger chain Wendy’s was scorched on social media after its CEO suggested it may start testing “dynamic pricing” or surge pricing based on demand, especially during peak hours of the day.

Cathey said Walmart had no plans to do that.

*“It is absolutely not going to be one hour it is this price and the next hour it is not,” he said on the sidelines of Walmart’s annual shareholder meet in Bentonville, Arkansas, on Thursday. *

Merchants typically provided pricing updates to Walmart on a weekly basis, but with digital price tags, they can pass on price changes to Walmart daily, Walmart spokesperson Cristina Rodrigues said.

Rodrigues said these prices are updated overnight, left the same during the day and revisited again after store hours or before the store opens the next day.

I have no problem with this. And WalMart can react fast to changing market positions

One question though. Will WalMart and other corporations turn pricing operation over to AI? Could the respective AIs collude to keep prices higher to generate more profit. Similar to when Steve Jobs colluded with other high tech firms to keep salaries low by not hiring each other’s employees.


This is an excellent example of a rhetorical question.


And then there’s the old RFID point. Store knows who shopper is and if you are a premium shopper willing to pay more for a quality product. Or a value shopper looking for a bargain. To close the deal retailer can show different prices tuned to the shopper.

Can AI make this more profitable?

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They also save the cost of having human staff change the prices on all the shelves. Michigan used to have a law that said every individual package on the shelf needed to have a price sticker on it, so that a customer could tell if they had been overcharged for an item. That law was repealed by the (L&Ses) in Lansing, because it was too much of a “burden” on the “JCs”. I buy relatively few items at the store each trip, and watch the register ring up each item, so I can see if the price matches what I saw on the shelf. I refunded a couple bottles of mouthwash at the grocery store a couple months ago, because the price wrung up did not match the price on the shelf.

…because human employees are nothing but a cost to be minimized.



I don’t think you need AI (as it is commonly understood) for this. Lots of industries use already dynamic pricing. Sports events, apartment rental companies, etc.


Airlines & Hotels


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Sure. And certainly that includes sale of tickets on airlines.

But AI has potential to notice changes in a wide array of product categories, learn which ones are leading indicators, and adjust prices faster. Programming to monitor a half dozen products in a group is no big deal but AI could do hundreds or thousands.

When that happens to me, I TELL THEM and they adjust it to the correct price. Some stores even give you an extra 10% off when you find such errors.

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There’s a lawsuit in progress on this one!


More jobs destroyed by automation.

The Captain


Shareholder Value! Uber Alles

Oh, it’s been going on for a long time. Advertising time on radio and TV stations. Pricing for internet ads. Airline seats, hotel rooms. Uber drivers. Congestion pricing. Electric utilities. Seasonality in retail pricing. Logistics and cargo pricing. Sporting and entertainment ticket pricing.

Andthere’s doubtless more on the way. Computers let the b*astards do it too easily.

Mao’s value proposition was ‘Value Unter Alles’ and it made people miserably poor.

The Captain

Old hat

The company I work with has a retail outlet with many units. We never worry about manpower hours. The computers calculate the average sales per 15 minutes along with the margin for the given sales and margins.

Dynamic pricing is the complementary part of this.

I doubt changes will be daily. I think they will be weekly or monthly when all is said and done.

Price integrity matters. The customers know when pricing changes endlessly. It will throw them off.

There is friction in business. Individual industries need to understand the friction in pricing for their business.

But that depends on executives who are very human and not paying enough attention.


The airlines got sued successfully for the same thing.

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There are both good and bad things about dynamic pricing. Of course its bad when you want to go someplace (needing airfare and hotel) when it is busy because you’ll have to pay extra. The flip side is that if you can go off peak you might score a bargain price.
I think everyone realizes that the companies wouldn’t stay in business if they had to accept the bargain pricing 100% of the time.



Theme park tickets. Weekends are more than weekdays. Holiday weekends more than regular weekends. Summer more than winter.

Plus you can pay extra to skip the lines.


Dynamic pricing has been around forever:

Snow shovels and ice melt before a snowstorm - prices up 300%
Batteries, Plywood, ets. before a hurricane - prices up 200 - 400%

The only difference I see is that AI / tech will allow the retailer to implement it faster and cheaper. Life goes on…


I bought a fall outer vest and a winter jacket last week. The deals are great. The puff jacket was $190 normally. I got it for $57. The vest was $60.

It is going up in price day by day.

Come September?

I bought 3 Lacoste hand towels at Macy’s 60% off. Wait till people come back from vacation? Why?