Hot Topics:

Using Persuasive Pricing

Buyers respond to perceived value, not necessarily the lowest price.

With so many wares to choose from, many online buyers have become, well, a rather choosy bunch. And, when times are tough and budgets are stretched, buyers are more motivated than ever to shop where they think they’ll get the best value for their online dollar.

Of course, this doesn’t mean every shopper is a penny-pinching bargain hunter. On the contrary, even when fiscal frugality is the mood of the moment, there are still plenty of buyers with discretionary cash to spend—though they’ll use a critical eye as they seek out the best quality of merchandise.

As a seller, your duty is to properly assess your goods for sale and employ a thoughtful and appropriate product pricing strategy. Use these tips to develop your pricing approach that convinces and even persuades shoppers to buy from you, wherever you sell.

First, assess your setting

The mere potential that a bargain could be had is often enough to engage the dollar-stretching buyer

If it’s been a while since you considered the nuances of pricing for online sales versus brick-and-mortar settings, it’s time to refresh your perspective. While a physical store proprietor or leased-booth seller might have spent years developing a successful product pricing approach, some find their tried-and-true pricing strategy falls flat in the online world.

Conversely, those who have sold exclusively online, especially in the auction places, find their pricing approach requires adjustment when they open shop in a brick-and-mortar setting.

Recognize that many online bidders and buyers are looking for bargains and, therefore, you might need to offer slightly lower prices or low opening bids to give those shoppers the perception that they might get a real steal. Even though auction settings often result in ascending bids well above a low starting bid offer, the mere potential that a bargain could be had is often enough to engage the dollar-stretching buyer.

When it comes to a real world setting—especially at a leased booth or a table at a trade show—it’s typically necessary to slightly mark up prices of some items in anticipation of the customary haggling ritual. In these settings, seasoned sellers know they need to increase their stated sales price a bit—not too much, though—to allow for back-and-forth dickering until the buyer reaches a compelling price while the seller still remains profitable.

And what of the human touch, that is, the ability of a buyer to carefully examine an item at a shop or show, as opposed to the inability to do so in an online market? Does that cause a shift in product pricing strategy? It does. This is the dynamic most refer to as “emotional attachment” for an item, and it occurs almost immediately at the time a potential buyer sees and holds an item.

With this in mind, a price can be set accordingly to account for the added value and appeal of an item that can be purchased and taken item home immediately. Online, however, that tactile experience is absent. Therefore, you’ll need to rely on good images to create a similar, albeit somewhat diminished, allure. For this reason, online pricing needs to be adjusted downward to add the additional component that would compel a purchase.

Price for the market mood

Turning attention fully to online pricing, it’s also important to understand how your goods will measure up in the competitive online marketplace. It’s necessary to consider current supply and demand, condition and completeness, your investment value, and your realistic sales goals for the goods you’ll offer. Research the auction market for current and closed sales to ensure your product pricing strategies will compliment, not contradict, current pricing trends. You’ll find this to be the critical information to help you determine if what you want to sell is what online buyers want to buy—and at what price.

Lower prices to raise sales

Again, many online buyers are looking for bargains—especially in auction settings where this becomes the key draw of the bidding experience. Even in fixed-price settings, discerning buyers have learned how easily they can compare goods and prices from literally all corners of the Earth before they commit to a purchase.

Higher prices or opening bids cater to discriminating buyers, and showcase your confidence in your goods

If your goods tend to be reasonably plentiful on the market, you’ll need to hook buyers and bidders with lower prices that will practically compel them to buy or bid. Just as $19.99 is more appealing than $20, you’ll want to similarly shave off a bit where you can to entice your shoppers to further examine and hopefully buy your goods instead of your competitors.’

Raise prices to serve the high-end buyer

When your goods are top-of-the-line or are extremely rare, you’re in the enviable position of being able to set prices accordingly with less competitive pressure. Many such sellers avoid guerrilla pricing tactics, yet still enjoy terrific online sell-through rates based upon the inherent appeal of the item itself.

Most sellers have concluded that higher quality or highly desirable goods are underserved by bargain pricing. Low product pricing here might cause potential buyers to worry, “at that low price, there must be something wrong.” Higher prices or opening bids, then, work well to effectively communicate your item is the real deal: It caters to the truly discriminating buyers (especially those who search specifically for high-end offerings), and showcases your knowledge and confidence in the fine goods you’re selling.

A variety of price points

Yes, variety is still the spice of life and shoppers enjoy finding a range of goods and prices that will suit their every need, indulgence, and frequent frugal sensibility. Offering goods in a variety of prices (suitable to the items) can help attract more shoppers and increase your sales. If it fits your sales plan, offer lower-priced items alongside your more valuable pieces. Consider frequent sales, “two-fers” or any other sort of promotion that can draw shoppers in to take a closer look at everything you have to offer.

Much like the bidder who becomes determined to win an auction often bids above and beyond what they originally intended to spend, fixed-price shoppers can likewise be drawn to a certain type of item (and its proprietor) based upon the compelling price of an initial purchase. Once bitten, those shoppers may return to “up the ante” and purchase additional items for which they’ve found a stirring new passion.

About the author

Dennis L. Prince
Dennis L. Prince has been analyzing and advocating the e-commerce sector since 1996. He has published more than 12 books on the subject, including How to Sell Anything on eBay...and Make a Fortune, second edition (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and How to Make Money with MySpace (McGraw-Hill, 2008). His insight is actively sought within online, magazine, television and radio venues. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.

Newsletter Signup