When Tesco was accused by the BBC in February of ‘ripping off’ customers with out-of-date promotions at dozens of stores across the UK, the clamour was for a system that would stamp out such terrible inaccuracies.
Now the worm has turned. Supermarkets, including Tesco and most recently Morrisons, have been exploring technology that not only improves promotional and pricing compliance, but has a chance to revolutionise interactivity with customers.
The conspiracy theory now in the media is that supermarkets are developing electronic shelf labels so they can bring in Uber-style surge pricing, able to dictate prices to suit demand at the flick of a head office button.
It makes for interesting Big Brother-style headlines, but the reality is way off. With consumer loyalty already, virtually a thing of the past in the age of the discounter, supermarkets would be crazy to embark on such a course.
In recent years the big four’s rollercoaster pricing has proved a key sales driver for Aldi and Lidl. It’s pretty easy to imagine the excitement in the discounters’ marketing teams if surge pricing became a reality.