Discover the power of skyrocketing your eCommerce sales – Talk to an expert


Pricing Waterfall

Table of content

    Pricing is critical for a company’s performance. While many businesses are aware of transaction pricing management, the majority need to acknowledge which components influence the price of their product and instead focus solely on the List pricing or the Invoice Price. A pricing waterfall analysis allows a company to use sales transaction data to increase bottom-line profitability by discovering margin improvement possibilities. The pricing waterfall is a valuable way to visualize and analyze every aspect of the price transformation process.

    Understanding Pricing Waterfall

    What is a Pricing Waterfall?

    The pricing waterfall is an analytical approach to help businesses find hidden expenses. It is used to compute the company’s ultimate revenue from each transaction while accounting for all ‘margin leakages’. It covers discounts, bundled offers, free shipping, promotional retail pricing, value-added services, free assembly/setup, and policy loopholes that fall through the gaps and get unaccounted for when computing stated costs. Individual and small actions can build up to huge amounts of earnings leaking unchecked. Without addressing these issues, an ignorant shop may choose to raise the quoted price of its products rather than identify unnecessary expenditures in its procedures.

    A waterfall pricing model will begin with the initial beginning price and go through numerous transactions until it satisfies the pocket margin. At each step, it is critical to identify which elements will impact pricing points. 

    • Cash discounts are reductions made for prompt invoice payments.
    • Free delivery/returns leave the firm with the costs.
    • Off-invoice promotions are marketing incentives that provide refunds or discounts on purchases.
    • Consignment costs are the expenses for supplying consigned items.
    • Carrying costs are the expenses of maintaining an inventory between issuing an invoice and receiving payment.
    • Freight expenses refer to the cost of carrying goods.
    • Marketing allowances provide allowances to help with company advertising through retail or wholesale brands.

    Returns are a major hidden cost in the Price Waterfall today. In e-commerce, return rates are between 20 and 30%. Problems like too-easy return policies, mistakes in shipping sizes or products due to poor data management, and unclear product descriptions leading to dissatisfied customers returning items all add to business costs. The Price Waterfall approach identifies where each of these losses originates, allowing your company to gain control of expenses and manage accordingly.

    Importance of pricing waterfall in pricing decisions

    The pricing waterfall is crucial in pricing decisions for businesses due to several key reasons:

    1. Visibility into Pricing Components: It offers a structured breakdown of pricing components such as list price, discounts, rebates, and net price. Visibility helps with understanding how each component contributes to the final price and enables them to make the right pricing decisions.
    2. Profitability Analysis: By analyzing each component of the pricing waterfall, businesses can assess the impact on profitability. The analysis is essential for identifying areas where costs can be optimized, discounts managed effectively, and profitability increased.
    3. Optimizing Revenue: Understanding the pricing waterfall allows businesses to adjust pricing components to optimize revenue streams strategically.
    4. Competitive Positioning: Analyzing the pricing waterfall helps businesses benchmark their pricing strategies against competitors. It allows them to adjust prices strategically to maintain competitiveness while ensuring profitability.
    5. Data-Driven Decision Making: The pricing waterfall provides data-driven insights that support decision-making. It helps businesses set pricing goals, evaluate pricing performance, and implement effective pricing tactics based on real-time data.
    6. Customer Segmentation: Businesses can use the pricing waterfall to segment customers based on their price sensitivity and willingness to pay. The segmentation allows for targeted pricing strategies for different customer segments and improves customer satisfaction and loyalty.

    Common Challenges

    Challenges with Price Waterfalls

    Common obstacles that hinder an organization’s ability to utilize price waterfalls arise from infrastructure or structural deficiencies, including systems, personnel, and reporting. These shortcomings restrict access to accurate, frequent, and timely transaction data. Even if accurate data exists, it may not be readily accessible.

    Structural and Infrastructure Shortcomings

    Systems: Lack of sufficient data and analytics tools for analysis and integrated information systems to measure data accurately for pricing. A proactive step to address systems gaps is assigning dedicated staff members to manage infrastructure effectively.

    Personnel: Lack of essential talent and expertise for optimizing transaction pricing and, once in place, fostering support for the pricing function within the organization to drive analysis and gather insights. Companies should ensure capable leadership oversees their revenue management function.

    Results, Planning, and Reporting: Often, organizations with the necessary systems overlook using them to monitor and track results efficiently. Additionally, monitored results are not always reported. For effective monitoring and reporting, it’s essential to design or reconfigure infrastructure specifically for monitorability.

    Impact on businesses

    The challenges in pricing waterfall analysis have significant repercussions for businesses:

    Missed Revenue Opportunities

    Inaccurate or incomplete data in pricing waterfall analysis can result in missed revenue opportunities. Businesses may fail to identify areas where pricing strategies can be optimized to maximize revenue.

    Profit Margin Erosion

    Without understanding the pricing components, businesses can experience profit margin erosion due to inefficient discounting practices, unmanaged rebates, or pricing inconsistencies.

    Competitive Disadvantage

    The inability to effectively analyze the pricing waterfall can put businesses at a competitive disadvantage. Competitors who leverage pricing data effectively can capture market share and customer loyalty.

    Operational Inefficiencies

    Complex pricing structures and data integration challenges lead to operational inefficiencies, such as manual data reconciliation processes and errors in pricing execution.

    Practical Tips for Pricing Waterfall:

    1. Bring In Cost Components

    Ingest various components impacting costs and margins, aiming for an accurate understanding of what affects margins.

    1. Simulate Price Cost Impacts

    Simulate the effects of price and cost changes, especially in product lines, to improve information and analysis for decision-making. Consider factors like negotiating positions with vendors, volume commitments, planagram changes, and competitive drivers of cost changes.

    1. Drive the Strategy

    Align pricing strategies with other business strategies, influencing decision-making processes. Balance fixed prices and costs within the price waterfall with more flexible options, considering data from various sources for optimal outcomes.


    Pricing is an underutilized source of revenue, especially during turbulent situations. A successful transaction pricing strategy consists of a series of day-to-day decisions that impact final price points. It explains why the price waterfall is resilient and a vital profit-making instrument. Implementing the discussed strategies can optimize pricing, boost profits, and enhance competitiveness. Take action to maximize the benefits of Pricing Waterfall Analysis for your business growth.
    Maximize your profitability and market competitiveness with‘s competition-based pricing strategies. Discover more on our website.



    Related Posts

    Request A Demo