Ep70: Dynamic Pricing Engine for Better Pricing Decisions with Burc Tanir
Price monitoring software is becoming more and more accessible to all levels of markets such as SMEs and startups. Burc says it’s not an excuse to invest in such technologies since they are no longer expensive for enterprise players.
Burc Tanir is the CEO of Prisync – a company helping e-commerce companies automatically track their competitor’s prices, and dynamically price their products deliberately.
In this episode, Burc shares his insights on why pricing is critical to e-commerce success, and why analyzing your competitor’s prices manually is laborious. He argues adding value to your product and working on your market positioning is most important to any e-commerce business.
Why you have to check out today’s podcast:
- Learn about the dynamic pricing engine and its impact on making data-driven pricing decisions
- Learn about the crucial pricing elements in making an informed pricing decision
- Understand why, as much as data-driven decision-making helps companies, a product’s value must also be considered in pricing
“Every market and every player in the market has its competition to a varying degree. I will always encourage those people to find automated and dynamic ways to monitor competition, regardless of scale, and at least incorporate some degree of data-driven decision making.”
— Burc Tanir
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01:36 – E-commerce companies doing manual work of benchmarking their product prices. It occurred to Burc they need to automate, which paved Burc Tanir’s way into pricing.
03:25 – Web scraping of pricing data used to be hard. What made it possible for Burc to have a wide database of online retail stores.
05:22 – Manufacturers face the challenge of putting their prices on webpages as they operate through distribution channels and retailers. The technology Burc developed helps benchmark what manufacturing businesses sell.
06:53 – Three elements of the pricing puzzle: product matching, price scraping, and product optimization. Key points for decision making.
09:17 – What dynamic pricing engine is all about. How this rule-based pricing for small and medium-sized companies helps them reach their pricing goal.
11:42 – How to avoid ratcheting up prices and ridiculous price points.
14:29 – Burc built his company by looking at what problem needs to be solved in the e-commerce industry. Why did he focus on e-commerce and what does he see changing in it these days.
17:33 – While data-driven decisions are helping companies, non-data driven decisions like understanding a product’s value should also be a major consideration in pricing. Burc expounds on this.
19:17 – Using data-driven software does not always mean pricing low, it means raising prices the smart way to maximize profitability.
20:05 – Burc shares his valuable pricing to significantly impact your business.
“Our dynamic pricing engine was primarily designed for most small and medium-sized businesses. We went after a strategy which includes giving our clients the flexibility of setting price rules.” – Burc Tanir
“E-commerce will always exist so it’s the right market to stick with. I always wanted to find something sustainable. There will always be a price point for a product – pricing (as a function) will never disappear.” – Burc Tanir
“We don’t claim to follow the pricing puzzle end to end, we tell companies to not waste their time analyzing prices because that’s a robotic thing. Just focus on your value, your market positioning.” – Burc Tanir
“Most think we would always bring their prices down. But in the most profitable cases, we commend clients to increase their prices smartly.” – Burc Tanir
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Full Interview Transcript
(Note: This transcript was created using Temi, an AI transcription service. Please forgive any transcription or grammatical errors. We probably sounded better in real life.)
Burc Tanir: Every market and every player in the market has its competition to a varying degree. I will always encourage those people to find automated and dynamic ways to monitor competition, regardless of scale, and at least incorporate some degree of data-driven decision making.
Mark Stiving: Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing, value, and the online relationship between them. I’m Mark Stiving. Today, our guest is Burc Tanir. Here are three things you want to know about Burc before we start: he is CEO and co-founder of Prisync. Whoo, I didn’t ask him how to pronounce that. We’ll find out later if I got it right.
Burc Tanir: Just like pricing itself.
Mark Stiving: Excellent. He is the CEO and started that company seven years ago. It’s been around for quite a while. Nice. He’s got a background in sales and marketing. And he is our very first guest from Turkey. Welcome, Burc.
Burc Tanir: Thank you, Mark. First of all for inviting me and also I would like to thank Juliana Jackson. She originally posted a comment with my name under your recent post about inviting people to this podcast. So it’s a pleasure for me to be your guest. Thank you for it, Mark.
Mark Stiving: Nice. Well, hopefully, our listeners appreciate it, too. So let’s see what we can learn. Yeah, so we’ll start with this question, how did you get into pricing?
Burc Tanir: I was recovering from a failed startup before this startup of ours, which is not a startup anymore. I was trying to figure out some problems in the e-commerce space in a wider sense. So I have many friends who are actively working in e-commerce companies. Or they were starting up their e-commerce businesses. So I was basically like watching them, trying to figure out their daily lives, their hustles, their problems, and stuff. And one key element in their daily life attracted my attention a lot, which was competitive pricing. So their markets were already crowded with tons of competitors. And those people were, by the way, really smart people who were wasting tons of time on really benchmarking their exact product prices versus competition. They were spending a lot of manual time and stuff. And after noticing that this benchmarking e-commerce is a manual job, I decided to double down on that, and I wanted to build something automated. So that’s how I got into this, from a problem, altering a problem.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, that’s pretty interesting. So we’re going to talk a little bit about an article that you wrote on essentially B2B moving more towards online pricing and needing this competitive information. It turns out, you know, if we go back to the time where you started your company, 2013, maybe it was a couple of years before that, I had been trying to do web scraping of my competitors’ distribution channels so I could get their prices. And so this has been a problem that’s been around for a long time. And I thought it was hard. So when you do this today, let’s do B2C first. Are you out web scraping Amazon and the retail stores?
Burc Tanir: Yeah, maybe that’s it. But I mean, we are not only focusing on Amazon on the major side. In general, we have the most, let’s say, a widespread database of online retail spots being scraped. So in total, I can share some numbers. We currently monitor millions of product prices from more than 250,000 websites across the world containing multiple domains of Panasonic with multiple countries. But yeah, I’m referring to this B2B problem. I think the biggest problem that you faced back then was that the data was not there yet. So it was missing because you know, B2B websites were mostly not displaying their prices publicly. So they were always hiding behind logins. And this is one of the key trends that we are obtaining in B2B industries nowadays, they are now not that shy anymore because they noticed that those logging in before seeing the prices kill their conversion rates. I mean, they already got hold of the traffic they generate on those products pages. So they now started to list some prices, online prices. So basically, the number of, let’s say, B2B products with a price is like really increased. So that’s how we also kind of become more relevant for those that need to be priced because there is now some data to be scraped.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, so I could see how B2B companies are moving in this direction. And I think it’s more of a, if I’m a manufacturer of a product, I want to have a relationship with my end customer. And to do that, I have to have that transaction. And so then it’d be great if they could buy direct from me or I don’t want to see my prices, if at all possible. The challenge is oftentimes manufacturers sell through distribution channels. And so now I’ve got to make sure that I’ve normalized my pricing of what I as a manufacturer, I’m showing on my webpage, what my distributors show on their webpage. This gets to be challenging.
Burc Tanir: Yeah. I mean, what we also see in that respect, those manufacturers don’t compete against a retailer because that’s going to be big cannibalization. I mean, they don’t own those retail channels. So what they do, with basically our technology in that specific case is that they at least benchmark what those other guys are selling for. And they add this premium on top of it to cater to a, let’s say, customer group, who would feel more comfortable dealing with the manufacturer themselves. So they kind of sell this premium to their retailers or to the customers. So instead of going after the listed price on Amazon, on behalf of the manufacturers, some customers are okay to pay the premium to interact with that spike, like manufacturers themselves. So that’s why it’s crucial to list your products online and meet their price points to interact with that group of customers, in essence.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, and so as a manufacturer, I always recommended that people would put up their list price on their web page. That way, if the retail channel, the distribution channel wanted to sell at a discount they could, makes it hard for them to sell at a price premium over what I was charging, which I don’t want him to do anyway, so that’s okay. Yeah, so this is pretty cool. What are some of the challenges you run into? Back when I was trying to do this, it was really hard because they would change the way they put prices up, and I could no longer go scrape it. And it’s just hard.
Burc Tanir: I mean, I think it would make more sense to figure out like, what constitutes this scraping thing first. In our point of view, I mean this e-commerce pricing puzzle has three elements. The first one is, you know, initially, figure out your competition. I mean, before just diving into scraping, you need to find out what to scrape, right, so you need to find your competitors. So that’s probably one of the most complicated pieces of the puzzle because matching those products with you know, various types of names, barcodes, and stuff is a big deal. So that also includes a lot of scraping.
So after matching, that’s what we call after this product matching part comes price scraping part and there obviously, you encountered those, like frictions of price scraping and everything but what we did basically to tap out, you know, to face those challenges was to build the utmost scalable scraping engine that is now able to scrape price from 250,000 websites without that much of friction if you get what I mean.
And after that part comes the decision making, right, so we are not just collecting all these prices for nothing. I mean, we then need to figure out what the price points on our customer’s website should be. So there comes this pricing optimization part. So I believe like the last part might sound the most strategic, but it’s the most simplistic part because you know if as long as you have the data, you can crush that and you can generate value. But, you know, generating the data is a big problem. And, after you cross a certain threshold in terms of several products, many websites and stuff, things in a way start to become easier because of you kind of get used to all different types of websites being scraped and stuff. So it requires a bit of experience, I would say.
Mark Stiving: Yeah. And so what’s the, by the way, I love that explanation you just gave that was nice, where we have the three pieces. First, we had to do product matching. And I think a lot of companies don’t understand who their competitors are. Or they think of it from a generic point of view. And if you’re going to go online and look it up, there’s a specific part number or you’ve got to go find that, so that’s awesome. And then the scraping part, which is the hard part. That’s the tech that’s the magic. Right, that’s the technology that you guys have mastered now. The last part I find fascinating, and that’s recommendations or reporting or monitoring or alerts or whatever we’re going to do for our clients. What kind of recommendations? How do you use this to give recommendations to your customers?
Burc Tanir: Our engine, like the dynamic pricing engine, was primarily designed for most small and medium-sized businesses in general, like our core business model relies on this segment of the market. So in line with that, we went after a strategy that includes a lot of like rules for this price to be set. So we give our clients the flexibility of setting price rules such as I want to be 5% cheaper than the cheapest of my competitors and still I want to be like 5% profitable. So it constitutes this number of rules and stuff, but also one of our strategic decisions at the time with pricing and was to partner up with better, bigger pricing companies who have been in the business like longer than us. So they already cater to B2B companies, they already have this like a sophisticated pricing engine, which incorporates multiple data points, including competitive prices, such as transactional data, location data, and stuff. So we decided to partner up with those bigger companies in our environment so we kind of place ourselves, position ourselves as their data partners. So we come up with all this like competitive prices, we feed our data into their engine, and then they also come up with more sophisticated results. So this is basically how we approach rather bigger B2B enterprise clients and at the core of it, we have this rule-based dynamic pricing engine, just as I mentioned.
Mark Stiving: Nice. So I want to tell you a little story, what you just said reminded me of a quick little story, and I want to hear your opinion on what happened. So I published the book in 2011, probably by 2015, it was no longer in print, and Amazon didn’t have any stocks. It was only third-party resellers. And I went online one day, and I saw the price of my book, which I normally sold for $20 was $250. And well trust me, I wasn’t getting any of that. But what I thought was going on, was it was these automatic decision engines that are saying, ‘Oh, I’m going to test this, I’m going to test this’ and, and people just started ratcheting up the price, watching the competitors ratchet up price. And so I ended up, I have a few books here in my closet, so, I ended up listing them on Amazon for $25 or $20, just so that I could watch those prices come back down. It was pretty fascinating.
Burc Tanir: I mean, we also encountered that type of problem. But in our technology we incorporate, kind of like thresholds. You know, it was such let’s say price floors and stuff. I mean, we have all these types of threshold who want, for example, let our customers have autonomy on dramatic price changes for a particular scheme and stuff. So that’s to me, it kind of helps them to avoid such ridiculous price points. I don’t know, maybe your book was worth that amount.
Mark Stiving: Definitely, worth it. I wish. I wish.
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Mark Stiving: All right, this was pretty fascinating. I love the fact that you step back, you started your company by saying what kind of problems we want to get solved or what kind of problems are going on in the e-commerce space. What do you see changing in e-commerce now?
Burc Tanir: Yeah, I mean for me, the reason why we focused on e-commerce was that you know, I believe that e-commerce will definitely always exist so it’s the right market to stick with. And I always wanted to find something, you know, on a let’s say sustainable level, which is not surprising. I mean, there will always be the price point for a product right, so pricing will never disappear and stuff. So when I made these two elements, it was the right thing to pursue. And also one of the key elements that we have seen was that, like more and more companies, more and more different industries will also move into e-commerce or in a better sense online, like digital commerce, so that they will publish more and more price points. So at the end of today, what we are mining, I mean, basically what we do is we just go after all these websites, we mined price points and stuff. So the mine itself will grow organically even if we don’t do much. So we decided to tap into that problem, it’s like say organic growth potential. And we are really fortunate to see this like in the demand into our software nowadays, for example, like all these COVID affected companies seeing some surge in their, like, demands. I mean smart minds are looking for ways to increase their bottom line coming up from this increased top line and stuff. So that was it. And also, as a child, I was kind of like really spending my money well on stuff. So I was interested in price points, I was benchmarking prices on a lot of stuff. So it made absolute sense to match all these as a lifestyle.
Mark Stiving: I’m completely with you on the pricing as a child thing. I found it fascinating. I always wanted to know why companies set prices the way they did. Yeah. So a comment I just want to make so my listeners can hear this because this is a pretty interesting concept, what you’re doing is you’re gathering tons of data, and you’re helping companies make data-driven decisions. And in a lot of ways, I love data-driven decisions. But one of the things that’s usually different in I’m gonna say B2C versus B2B, but it’s data-driven versus non-data-driven decisions – is that oftentimes when we have these data-driven decisions, we put rules in place but we’re not thinking about the value of our products. And so I’m always preaching to people about the value of your product, right? Your products are probably worth more than your competitors’ products, at least to some market segment. Are we getting that? Are we not getting that? Are we communicating that? And so I take nothing away from what you guys are doing. I think it’s awesome. Very valuable. But I caution people to not just use the data like this, and instead truly understand value because it’ll make a huge difference in the marketplace and your success.
Burc Tanir: Yeah, I mean, the way we approach that is quite similar to that. I mean, we don’t claim to follow the biggest, pricing puzzle end to end, so we just at least tell companies that, I mean, please don’t waste your manual time analyzing these prices and stuff because that’s a robotic thing. But rather than that, please focus on your value, your market positioning, and stuff, because these are required in your brand more than this price collection.
So please leave this robotic task to us and focus on more value-adding stuff – you’re interested in propositions, market positioning, and stuff, just leave this robotic task to us. That’s how we also approach it, and also if you are a menu-driven item or brand or something, also from a different perspective, you would also still need some benchmarking, right. And if you would position yourself to a more premium level, let’s say versus your competition, at least you need some baseline to, you know, add some premium on top of that.
So what we mostly say to our clients, with regards to the sales pitch and stuff, is that we never claim that the optimum pricing is the minimum pricing. The minimum price might be in some cases, the optimum price for increasing your top line and stuff, but in most cases, it’s not the case. So I fully agree with your data-driven approach and that’s what we also encourage our customers to follow.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, I think it was a great answer. And if you think about pricing and value, one of the things we have to know is how much is my competitor charging and how much more is my product worth? But part of that is how much my competitor charges. And if we’re not watching that number, if they change it, market dynamics can change without us even knowing why and what happened. So I take nothing against watching competitors’ prices.
Burc Tanir: Another quick note on that, in some cases, we also let our customers see that they priced it too low, for example. And they claim that they have the most valuable tool service in the market and stuff but when they incorporate this benchmarking, they suddenly notice that they’re like terribly low in the marketplace. So we encourage them to increase their prices to the contrary effect that people mostly think that we would always bring their prices down. But in the most profitable cases, we commend them to increase their prices smartly. So that’s also in line with that.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, absolutely. This has just been fascinating. I have enjoyed this conversation. Can I ask the final question that I always ask? What’s one piece of pricing advice that you would give our listeners that you think could have a big impact on their business?
Burc Tanir: Yeah, sure. Obviously, it will be a biased answer. But I always believe that you know, every market and every player in the market has its competition to a varying degree. So I will always encourage those people to find automated and dynamic ways to monitor competition, regardless of the scale, and at least incorporate some degree of data-driven decision-making, and also the things that as technologies like ours are becoming more and more accessible to all levels of markets such as SMEs, startups, and stuff. I think, now, it’s not an excuse to invest in such technologies since they are no longer expensive, as this can already be afforded by enterprise players. I think not using tools like ours is not acceptable in today’s market.
Mark Stiving: So I’m going to repeat it, but I’ll say it in a less biased way if that’s okay. So what I heard you say was to monitor your competitors’ prices. And then do it intelligently without doing it manually. I would buy that completely. Very nice. Thank you so much for your time today, Burc. If anybody wants to contact you, how can they do that?
Burc Tanir: Basically, they can find me on LinkedIn with my name. I mean, they will probably see this on the podcast. I can also share my email email@example.com. They can shoot me an email or anything around pricing or anything about life and stuff. They can reach out to me on LinkedIn or email.
Mark Stiving: Excellent, thank you. Episode 70 is all done. Let’s see, my favorite part of today’s podcast. I really enjoyed when we were talking about the difference between B2B and B2C data-driven-value. I think it’s something we overlook a lot. So what was your favorite part? Please let us know in the comments or wherever you downloaded and listened. While you’re at it, would you please give us a five-star review. These are very helpful to us. Don’t forget we have a free community where you can access all of the content that we put out. You’ll find that at community.championsofvalue.com. If you have any questions or comments about the podcast or pricing, feel free to email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, go make an impact!
Mark is a pricing expert who helps companies understand value, how to create it, communicate it and capture it. He has a PhD from U.C. Berkeley and an MBA from Santa Clara University, plus 25+ years pricing experience. As an educator, speaker and coach, Mark applies innovative, value-based pricing strategies to guide growth and increase profits for large and small companies.