With retail spending at all-time lows thanks to the current recession, stores are looking for ways to provide deals, sales and discounts for consumers. Some stores are even letting consumers haggle for prices. NetHaggler is hoping to woo both consumers and online retailers by providing a service that lets users track and negotiate prices online. Free for consumers, NetHaggler has enlisted retailers to participate in its service through affiliate marketing services, like LinkShare.
After installing a simple and secure bookmarklet (called the “Hagglet”), users can click on the link on the link in your bookmarks bar and draw a box with a cropping tool around any product that is from an affiliate NetHaggler Store. This lets NetHaggler capture and store the product and price information so the site can work its negotiation magic. The site will then let you choose whether you want to Tag, Nag or Haggle a product.
Tagging an item lets you enter a specific price and then get updates via email with price reductions that occur over the next few weeks or months. Nagging, which is NetHaggler’s flagship offering, enlists NetHaggler to determine whether consumers are eligible for an immediate discount on the list price. Consumers can submit a price that they are willing to pay and then NetHaggler will return with an yes, no or counteroffer from the retailer. NetHaggler’s founder, Satya Iluri, says that the site employs an algorithm to determine how much of a discount the retailer is willing to negotiate (if any) and also takes into account the consumers behavior in the site.
Haggling lets you do something similar to nagging, because you still can request a discount and indicate how much you are willing to spend. But if the item you haggle happens to be a popular item amongst other NetHaggler users, then NetHaggler will negotiate a volume pricing or bulk deal that will produce a steeper discount, says Iluri.
Its important to note that the discount a consumer receives through NetHaggler will not be deducted from the price of the product (you have the pay the full price). You will instead be issued payment of the discount through PayPal or a check. NetHaggler only makes money if the consumer buys a product; the company receives a small commission on each sale.
The ability to track the price fluctuation of a product isn’t new—tracking sites like Trackle and Notify.Me also let you track the prices of retail goods. Aroxo is doing this for eBay and Fididel also has a haggling site.
The haggling part of the site may be attractive in the current spending market. NetHaggler has a roster of big names affiliate retailers on the site, including Macy’s, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, and Nordstrom but when I tried to sign up to “Nag” a retailer for a shirt on Abercrombie & Fitch.com, I was only able to Tag or Haggle, the nagging feature wasn’t available for A&F although it is a supported retailer. I also tried to “Nag” a product at Macy’s and was unable to do so. Illuri says that some retail sites don’t have the necessary data feed connectivity and web services to work for the Nag function, which is a shame because that is the feature I would use most.