Pricing the Catch of the Day

By James Marland
November 21, 2011

I was in Paris last week and came across this seafood restaurant, Le Bar à Huîtres. A highly innovative place, serving salmon “fumé dans sa cloche” where the raw fish is presented under a glass dome filled with woodsmoke, and Oysters (the eponymous huîtres) served in steaming dry ice. Unfortunately, this exotica was outside my price range, but what also caught my attention were the iPad menus.

LeBarAHuitres_Paris_Blog_Thumbnail The pictures and general feel of the menu is reflected on their website, but as a professional pricer, I think they missed a couple of tricks. Surely one of the big benefits of the interactive menu is the ability to replace the classic “Catch of the day…….Market Price”, with the details of the actual catch and the real price. But surely the real killer app for a restaurant specialising in the freshest seafood is dynamic pricing. As the chef gets down to the last couple of sole, or the last batch of scallops, surely a price update to reflect their relative scarcity could be sent to those fancy gadgets? And if the clientele are not tempted by the skate at €25, then the price can be quietly cut to stimulate demand.

Now in this example, the distance between kitchen and diner can be measured in metres so a price signal can be easily communicated from the supply chain to the customer. But in many businesses, we should be aiming to have the same efficient signaling mechanism to price lift in scarcity and price cut in abundance. I’m not advocating iPad empowered sales reps (though that day will come faster than you think), but target prices which reflect the capacity shifts of our plants or supply chains.

Also, just as the maître’d nudges us on to more profitable wines, our sales people should be nudging their customers on to more profitable lines.

“Sir, if I might be permitted to make a suggestion…”


– James Marland

    James Marland

    James Marland is the Director of Business Consulting at Vendavo based in London. In this role he helps diagnose Pricing Opportunities and develops business cases for pricing projects with ROI models. James has been in the pricing software space for many years, both on the customer and supply chain side: so he has a view from “each side of the table”. Prior to his pricing career he was VP of Solutions at Ariba and has also spent 5 years at SAP America. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Southampton.