Summary of How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All

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Hunting for bargains online has become one of America’s most popular pastimes. But as economics writer Jerry Useem suggests in The Atlantic, online retailers have turned the tables and now look for the best deals from customers. The availability of vast amounts of consumer data has led economists to develop new software capable of turning online data into new pricing strategies to outsmart shoppers. getAbstract recommends Useem’s eye-opening article to retail professionals and unsuspecting consumers. 

In this summary, you will learn

  • How retailers use big data to “comparison shop” consumers,
  • How new software assists retailers in fine-tuning their price strategies, and
  • Why Amazon can sell a popular TV set below market price and still make money.

About the Author

Jerry Useem is a contributing editor at The Atlantic. He has covered business and economics for The New York TimesFortune, and other publications.



Online shopping has enabled consumers to compare prices and find the cheapest deal on virtually anything. This has put enormous pressure on retailers and their bottom lines. But businesses have found a new way to regain the upper hand: They’re now “comparison shopping” consumers. Retailers today have vast amounts of consumer data at hand, including web browsing and online shopping histories. A growing number of economists and data scientists have developed a keen interest in analyzing this unprecedented amount of data and in experimenting with different price models. Some among them have left academia to work with Silicon Valley heavyweights like Amazon and Google.

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