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B&Q could bring ‘smart’ price tags and variable pricing to the UK high street

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Online pricing innovations could move to the high street if B&Q implements technology that it is currently understood to be testing.

According to reports, B&Q is testing electronic price tags that could change the price of an item, based on which customer is looking at it.

Wi-fi enabled shelf-edge price tags would recognise the customer by their mobile phone and offer different prices, depending on whether the customer has a loyalty card or their past purchase history.

Ian Cheshire, chief executive of B&Q parent company Kingfisher, told the Daily Mail: “We have done various behind-the-scenes tests. It’s about special offers for individuals where we are looking at bundling offers or giving discounts.”

He also said that the company was looking at varying the in-store prices of some products from day to day, in the same way that airlines vary the prices of their seats.

“We could move to dynamic pricing and mimic the model used by easyJet,” said Cheshire. “Yield management techniques are not new – it’s just they haven’t traditionally been used in retailing. Pricing could be adjusted based on time of day.”

Currently, it’s reported, Kingfisher has introduced electronic shelf-edge pricing to its Castorama stores in France, and the technology could soon be introduced to the UK.

If introduced these approaches to pricing could echo not only easyJet, but the approach to variable discounts given online, where retailers such as Boden apply differing discounts to the products that they show different customers depending on any offers that they have been given.

Heikki Haldre, co-founder and chief executive of virtual fitting room solution company, said the move had implications for customers engaging in showrooming.

“B&Q’s plans for electronic price tags reflects the retail priority to invest in innovative in-store technologies in order to engage shoppers and combat the growing showrooming trend,” he said.

He added: “For the tech-savvy shopper, a personalised shopping experience is no longer a preference, it’s an expectation – and those retailers that can deliver a vastly improved experience are more likely to see their customers complete purchases immediately rather than watch them wander to a competitor.”

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