Retail in Asia

In Trends

The fight over who sets prices at the online mall

On some pages of e-commerce sites selling products like televisions, digital cameras and jewellery, a critical piece of information is conspicuously missing: the price tag.

To see how much these items cost, shoppers must add the merchandise to their shopping carts – in effect, taking it up to the virtual register for a price check.

The missing prices are part of a larger battle sweeping the world of e-commerce. Wary of the internet’s tendency to relentlessly drive down prices, major brands and manufacturers – and now, book publishers – are striking back, deploying a variety of tactics and tools to control how their products are presented and priced online.