It’s a curious idea in a world on online shopping and occasionally hefty delivery charges that consumers might be offered the chance to bid for better prices.

Massachusetts-based Netotiate has been working on this idea though and is now offering a new website plug-in as part of its service.

For online retailers this means there is a chance they could be appealing to a wider audience, if they are willing to haggle. The plug-in helps stores owners offer a more intriguing proposition: Make your offer.

“Our plug-in was designed not to cannibalize margins or sales that would have occurred anyway, but rather help retailers engage visitors before they leave to buy somewhere else, or not buy at all. Even if a visitor to your site wants to buy a product from you, if your listed price isn’t right for the visitor, many will simply leave and look for a better deal elsewhere,” says Amir Farhi, Netotiate’s co-founder and CEO.

It’s a fair point, if a price was a little lower and within a set budget, it might mean consumers reconsider a purchase.

netotiate520a Netotiate encourages online haggling with new website plug in

Netotiate launched in April 2012 and is backed by venture capital. Retailers get to control which products they apply the service to and base this on data such as the visitor’s characteristics or behavior, number of visits to site and elapsed time on site.

Retailers can also set up rules to automatically respond to consumers’ offers based on various parameters. The entire process occurs within the retailer’s site, including the checkout at the end of the deal.

For shoppers, the negotiation is only with the dealer, so there are no bidding wars, groups or discount vouchers to track down.

Users submit a reduced price offer for the product to the retailer and the Netotiate tool helps by indicating its probability of success. So making comedy low bids is not likely to work as well here as it might on a market in Marrakesh.

Shoppers can only allowed to submit one anonymous offer per product to the retailer, which in return can either accept, decline, or counter with up to three different deals.

To attract more shoppers who can consider online purchases at their leisure, it’s an interesting addition to the digital marketplace.

Image Credit: Placid Casual