Staples Offers Better Online Deals in Affluent ZIP Codes, WSJ Claims

If you’re not getting the same hot online deals that your family and friends are, it might not be because you’re slower on the e-shopping draw; instead, it may be because of where you live.

So says the Wall Street Journal, which conducted an investigation and found that the websites of many top retailers—including Staples, the Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Rosetta Stone—offer different prices to different online customers depending on different factors, such as browsing history, what type of device you’re using to shop, and physical location.

So-called “price discrimination” is a bit unsavory, but it’s common practice both online and offline. However, the paper noticed a troubling trend in the course of its investigation: Staples offered the most discounts in ZIP codes that averaged a yearly household income of $59,900. The locations that received the fewest discount offers, on the other hand, were ZIP codes that averaged $48,700 per year. In other words, mo’ money, mo’ online discounts.

The key factors in Staples online prices were determined to be the distance to a Staples store and the distance to competing stores (like Office Max); if you’re far from a brick-and-mortar Staples location but near a competitor, you’re more likely to see steeper discounts at Staples.com. The fact that many Staples stores are located in more urban environments may—may—explain some of the gap in the income-to-discount ratios uncovered by the WSJ.

The one area that bucked the trend was New York City, where the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island all consistently saw higher sticker costs, whereas Brooklyn and Queens shoppers almost always received discount prices, despite the fact that every borough is near a Staples competitor.

LEAVE A REPLY
Name*
Email* (will not be published)
Website
*Indicates required field
Comments*
Submit Comments

FIND A REVIEW
Laptops
All Product Types Accessories Cars Digital Camcorders Digital Cameras eReaders GPS Laptops MP3 & Video Players Projectors Smartphones Software Storage Tablets / MIDs VoIP Wi-Fi
All Subcategories
All Subcategories All-Purpose Budget Business Desktop Replacement Gaming Multimedia Netbook Nettop Rugged Student Tablet PCs Ultraportable
Brand
Acer Alienware Apple Archos ASUS Averatec BenQ CTL Corp. Dell Digital Storm eMachines Emtec Everex Fujitsu GammaTech Gateway General Dynamics Getac Gigabyte Hercules HP HTC iBuyPower Intel Lenovo MSI Nokia Nvidia OCZ OLPC OQO Origin Panasonic Sager Samsung Sony Sylvania Systemax TabletKiosk Toshiba Verizon Viewsonic Viliv VooDoo Workhorse PC ZT Systems
Minimum Rating
Any Rating 4.5 Stars 4.0 Stars 3.5 Stars 3.0 Stars
Screen Size
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 20 4 5 6 7 8 9
Resolution
1024x576 1024x600 1024x768 1200X800 1280 x 720 1280x1024 1280x768 1280x800 1366x678 1366x768 1440x1050 1440x900 1600x768 1600x900 1680x1050 1680x945 1920x1080 1920x1200 800x400 800x480
Weight Range
10.1 - 12.0 pounds 12.1 - 14.0 pounds 14.1 - 16.0 pounds 2 lbs 2 pounds and under 2+ lbs 2.1 - 4.0 pounds 4.1 - 6.0 pounds 6.1 - 8.0 pounds 8.1 - 10.0 pounds Over 16 pounds Under 2 pounds
more options
SUBSCRIBE