(Business Week) – Amazon (AMZN) is now taking bids. Venders who sell on Amazon can enable a “make an offer” feature that allows customers to offer a lower than list price. The seller can accept, reject, or counter the offer. If one makes a counteroffer, buyer and seller can haggle over e-mail and—if they reach an agreement—pay Amazon its commission. So far, the option is available only for 150,000 goods on the website, mostly art and collectables.
Amazon may extended the option to hundreds of thousands of items for sale within the next year. Amazon calls the offer process a “game-changer.”
While that’s probably an exaggeration, bargaining does have the potential to change American retail, quite possibly for the better.
In plenty of countries, people negotiate for nearly everything. Not so in the U.S., where bargaining on price tends to be limited to cars, real estate, and cable service. Research suggests that Americans are uncomfortable with the little haggling they do. In a LinkedIn (LNKD) survey of 2000 professionals in 2012, Americans (especially women) reported being more anxious than any other nationality when it comes to negotiating. (Indians feel most confident, followed by Germans.)