Pricing Data Heats Up: eBay Acquires

ebayNot to be outdone by the brick and mortars, eBay announced today its acquisition of Seattle-based pricing research and data firm for an undisclosed sum. applies what it calls “patent-pending machine-learning and text-mining algorithms” to an avalanche of price points to connect consumers to highly rated products and services. Users gained access to competitive pricing information, along with a promise that no new model of a product they were buying would launch within at least five months of purchase.

The service, including its mobile app, will no longer be available as of Sept. 30, according to Decide CEO Mike Fridgen, as it’s integrated into eBay.

EBay, which will bring Fridgen onboard, has not been slow to the race in its efforts to bolster its commerce data outfit by way of a “stream of targeted acquisitions” to enrich its ecommerce technology portfolio, according to the company. Some of those acquisitions include shopping startup Milo, which eBay brought into the eBay Local Shopping mix, as well as mobile bar-code startup RedLaser, which surfaces local prices and reviews.

Could a commerce pricing data war be upon us?

Home Depot acquired an automated pricing and optimization tool of its own last year, BlackLocus, which has since been rebranded as an “Innovation Lab” within its home-improvement parent company. WalmartLabs, the social and mobile business incubator for Walmart, acquired data analytics startup Inkiru earlier in the summer.

Similarly, competitive price-monitoring platform 360pi recently retained $4.1 million in new funding from Silverton Partners to ramp up data analysis to drive price recommendations and increased conversions.

In addition to grabbing more consumers, this latest acquisition by eBay “is really about, ‘How do we make our marketplace more attractive to prospective vendors than Amazon’s?’” commented Alexander Rink, CEO of 360pi.  “There’s been an explosion of online marketplaces, in general … like what we’re seeing with Rakuten and Best Buy.”

In turn, there’s been a renewed focus on investment in technology to keep up with every other retail player, he said. Pricing data will be paramount from a paid perspective, too, since 360pi and other vendors are beginning to partner with agencies to bring pricing data into media optimizer products.

This could, for instance, enable an advertiser to hit pause on an ad if the brand is way over a competitor pricing threshold or automatically add budget where it has a better chance of winning based on price, in real time.

One of the key drivers for applying more data to commerce through pricing is about “predicting intent and demand,” commented Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder of Constellation Research. “We’ll be seeing more acquisitions of big data, predictive analytics and decision-management systems in commerce.”

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