CoShopper promises cheaper prices for online buyers

Already in practice in a number of countries around the world, including the UK, Germany and Brazil - as well as the company's home country of Norway - CoShopper aims to help consumers get a better price on high-ticket items.

Potential buyers can nominate which products they want to buy and the more people who want a certain product, the cheaper the item will be. "We're the flip-side of online auctions," CoShopper country manager for Australia, Andrew Coates, said. "The more popular auction sites are the higher the price - we're the opposite."

According to Coates, if CoShopper can't negotiate a price that is at least 10 per cent better than street price, the item will not appear on the site.

Shoppers need to wait for the best price and CoShopper negotiates a number of tier prices depending on the amount of interest from members. They then have two options when it comes to committing to buy a product - they can say they will buy it at any price, whether the best price is reached or not, or at a reserve price (the most they want to pay) based on one of the tier prices.

Joint-managing director for Asia-Pacific, Christopher Lane, argued that because items are generally high-ticket or considered purchases, shoppers are prepared to wait for the best price and will not find the delay onerous if they can save money. Lane says as interest grows, the time it takes to gather buyers will also decrease.

After only two days in business, there are relatively few items for sale on the Australian site and the majority have not received enough interest from potential buyers to decrease in price. As an example, an Agfa scanner - the SnapScan 1212U - is featured on CoShopper as currently priced at $235 with a best price of $210.10. Harvey Norman advertises this product on its site at $314.

A comparison of mobile phone prices between CoShopper and buy.com found the buy.com prices only slightly higher than CoShopper's best prices. A Nokia 3210, for example, has a best price on CoShopper of $290 and is currently $350, while you can buy it from buy.com for $297.73. Ten buyers are needed, in this case, to get the $290 CoShopper price.

To spur interest, CoShopper relies on potential buyers spreading the word - it's in their interest if more people join. The company will also work to build a network of affiliate sites - or sites that host the CoShopper facility or a subset of the products - to improve buying power.

According to Coates, the first global ‘CoShop' - aggregating buyers from CoShopper sites around the world - will take place in around two month's time.

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