PRICE PRESSURE FROM online retailers is a fact of life. You are not helpless against it, though. As the owner of an indie pet store, you have a set of competitive advantages that allow you to come out ahead in the “Will you match this online price?” conversation.
If a customer asks the question, start by thanking them for being in your store and giving you the chance to earn their business. They could have simply scoured the internet to find the lowest price. They didn’t — they are in your store! You are halfway home.
So how do you make the sale, and begin a long and beautiful relationship?
1. Be price competitive. Please note that I didn’t say, “Have the lowest price.” I said, “Be price competitive,” especially in the commodity categories easily price-shopped online. In my experience, most people don’t necessarily need the lowest price, but they do want a fair price. If you give the casual bargain hunter a fair price with an amazing experience, you’re going to win the sale almost every single time.
The easiest way to do this is to not carry brands easily price-shopped. Beth Staley of Happy Dog Barkery in Downers Grove, IL, says: “Before I decide to bring in a new line or product, part of my due diligence is to check the online pricing, both from the manufacturer and from Chewy, Amazon, etc. If they are pricing at or just over my wholesale cost, I will not consider the line. If they have a hard direct-to-consumer push with constant discounts/free shipping, I will also not consider them. They have to allow me to be competitive. I do not want to invest time in a line, only to be undercut down the road.”
As an aside, understanding strategic pricing is one of the easiest, if not the easiest, ways to increase your margins. If you want to learn more about this important retail skill, check out the 15-minute video at whizbangtraining.com/sales-pricing.
Meanwhile, here are the three more strategic ways to win the price war:
2. Have great salespeople. A trained, skilled salesperson is hands-down the best way to eliminate online price pressure. Someone who knows your products, engages your customers and creates a great experience goes a long way toward eliminating any price objection. This is a training issue.
3. Have a loyalty program. If you have a good loyalty program and someone talks about price, you can quickly explain how your prices are about the same, or even lower, if they join your program.
4. Offer a “Price-Match Guarantee.” I have seen stores in several retail industries use this very successfully. Note that it’s not a “lowest-price” guarantee. It’s a “price-match guarantee,” meaning if they find it lower (including shipping and consideration of other costs such as an annual membership fee), you will match the price. You’ll get very few takers on your offer, but you will have eliminated all price objections.
There you go. Any of these strategies will help you make online price shopping less of a problem. Use them all and don’t be surprised if you avoid it altogether.