Retailer tactics to make online price comparisons harder

Maybe it’s slightly conspiritorial of me, but it appears that in an attempt to make online price comparison as difficult as possible some online electrical retailers are using web/java script to disable the “highlight / copy” function on parts of their website.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has browsed through a retailer’s website, looked at a product and then copy and pasted the [typically superfluous] product name to perform a price-comparison elsewhere. Far easier than retyping AcmeTech F657xc7A-UK, for example.

Well, go to pcworld.co.uk or currys.co.uk (two of the UK’s biggest electrical retailers and both owned by the same parent company). You can’t highlight and copy any of product text. It never used to be this way (I’m almost certain) and blocking the copy function on a web page requires a dedicated piece of script. It’s a concious decision.

I’m guessing it’s to mitigate the very behavior I described above.

We’ve heard about the threat of showrooming in the physical world; consumers browsing in shops and then buying (at a lower price) online, but this is the first time I’ve been aware of a retailer extending its defenses to its website.

I’m not fully resolved in how I feel about this. I sympathize with retailers that must cover the overheads of bricks and mortar stores (against pure-play online retailers), but in making my online experience more difficult than it should be, I can’t help but feel disappointed in the brand(s) responsible.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Derek says:

    Hi. I came across this article when I was irritated by the behaviour of Currys/PC world when trying to price compare in the way you describe. A little bit of research led me to discover that installing Tampermonkey, along with this script http://userscripts.org/scripts/show/164646
    re-enables the copy function on the page.

    I just wanted you to know as I feel like I’ve stuck two fingers up to their sneaky practice 🙂

  2. tim deluca-smith says:

    thx derek – that’s good to know

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