A hot topic at the recent BRA/IASC Roundtables at Surf Expo and ASR has been talk of a MAP or MSRP pricing strategy where online retailers are curbed from undercutting product price at the brick and mortar level. In other words, there would be a minimum advertised price online that all retailers would have to abide by.
Back on February 7th, the New York Times posted an article on this very subject. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/08/technology/internet/08price.html
The article references a 2007 Supreme Court ruling in which manufacturers were given considerable leeway in setting advertised pricing. Of course there is always the issue of enforcement and despite efforts to control pricing, there are always ways to cheat the system. Websites often replace prices with notes that say things like “To see our price, add this item to your cart.”
Most telling in the article was the sentence stating that “the competitiveness of the Internet has unlocked a race to the bottom — with everyone from large corporations to garage-based sellers ravenously discounting products, and even selling them at a loss, in an effort to capture market share and attention from search engines and comparison shopping sites.”