(Update 2) Amazon PA API 5 currently mixes up the prices of some products

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This post is also available in: deDeutsch (German)

Check out the updates on this topic at the end of the article.

As some of you have already noticed and reports are piling up, here is a summary of the current situation regarding the inconsistent prices delivered by the Amazon PA API 5.

The API provides different types of prices. The most interesting one is the price that is listed in the “buy box” on the product page. Usually this is the best price for a new product. For this there is a main data record in the API result in the “Offers” section, which so far has reflected this buy-box price (for the experts: at least if the value “IsBuyBoxWinner” was true).

At the moment, however, for some products this entry for the main price no longer matches the one on the product page. Sometimes the best price for used products is delivered or the cheapest price that can be found in the list of all new prices. A pattern is not visible.

To show that this is not a problem of the ASA2 logic, I analyzed the situation with Amazon’s own scratchpad and found that it shows inconsistent and misleading prices compared to the product page. Here are a few examples:

Example 1

Product Page

This is the product page of a Playstation 4 in the German Amazon store on 23.06. at about 10 pm. The main price for a new console is set at 299,00 €.

Amazon Scratchpad

At the same time the Amazon Scratchpad displayed this product box with a price of 214,99 €:

API JSON Result

In the data provided by the API, it can be seen that the lowest used price that can be seen on the product page is used for the main price. However, this price is not included in the API data as the lowest used price (this is 294.00 €). As you can see in the result, the main price of the product page is not included. There is only 299.99 but not 299.00.

Regardless of how you interpret the data, it doesn’t make sense that the scratchpad box has a price of 214.99, which suggests a bargain to the user when he then learns on the product page that this is the best used price.

Example 2

Product Page

This is the product page of headphones in the German Amazon store on 23.06. at about 10 pm. The main price for a new product is set at 229,00 €.

Amazon Scratchpad

At the same time, the Amazon Scratchpad displayed the price in its product box at 198,00 €.

API JSON Result

Again, the used price seems to be the main price used by the API. This time it is also delivered as the cheapest price in the used price summary (at the bottom of the screenshot). The price of 229.00 €, which is the main price on the product page, is delivered by the API as the lowest new price.

Example 3

Product Page

This is a curious case, because in the BuyBox a used product is listed, which is even significantly more expensive than the cheapest new product! When comparing all offers, it is remarkable that the BuyBox winner product is the cheapest product available per Amazon Prime.

Assumption

Should this mean that a new pricing algorithm favors Amazon Prime products, even though there are better offers that are not available via Prime? And is this algorithm currently only tested on the shop site and the PA API still works according to the previous mechanism?

Amazon Scratchpad

Even the Amazon Scratchpad shows the lowest new and used price independent of Prime availability, just like ASA2.

API JSON Result

And in the JSON result of the Amazon Scratchpad we can see that the current BuyBox winner from the product page is not included in the API result at all.

Workarounds

To avoid that in the worst case no price is displayed at all by ASA2, please activate the option “AutoPrice considers LowestNewPrice” which is activated by default and “IsAvailable if other offers” which may not be activated by default! Also check if the other options regarding the AutoPrice calculation can help you in this situation.

Conclusion

As there is no clear pattern to be seen in the analyses, it makes no sense at this stage for ASA to intervene with new methods for calculating the price. The price data of PA API 5 currently seem to be simply inconsistent for some products, this does not seem to be conclusive and more like an error.

It is hoped that the Amazon PA API department will recognize and improve this situation as soon as possible, so that the prices will simply work as before.

Update

  • June 25th: After writing this article, I took part in a discussion on the AWS forums. There others who are not using ASA report the same problem with the PA API. They also hope that Amazon will fix this situation soon.
  • July 12th: Added Example 3 (Preference for prime products?)

 

This post is also available in: deDeutsch (German)

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About the Author

Timo

I started working on AmazonSimpleAdmin back in 2007 because I could not find an Amazon plugin for WordPress that met my requirements. After many years of experience and hard work, the complete new ASA 2 Pro was released in early 2016. Follow me on Twitter. Learn more about me and the story behind ASA in this interview on expertentesten.de (in German).

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