For years, business leaders have complained about showrooming: When customers come into a store, look at its products, and use their phones to see if they can get them cheaper elsewhere.
Now, it seems, some small businesses are embracing new solutions.
Let's Make a Deal
Hilary Stout of the New York Times recently wrote about how companies haggle with their customers. Most of the process comes down to price-matching policies, wherein companies will match competitors' prices on products, if they provide proof. Big box stores like Staples have been price matching for years, but the Times notes that even high-end retailers like Nordstrom have also adopted these policies.
Here are two lessons in haggling and bargaining with customers, culled from the Times article.
1. Recognize it as a loyalty opportunity. Yes, you priced things the way you priced them for a reason. But letting your customers cut a deal serves the purpose of keeping them in good spirits about your company. "You think I’m not going to buy everything from Barnes & Noble now?" one Massachusetts consumer told the Times after cutting a deal with the bookseller.
In fact, the Times notes, some companies go beyond simply matching competitors' prices. They go 10 percent lower than that price, which is sure to please even the most brand-agnostic of customers.
2. Keep it customer-initiated (but be ready to act). You don't need to completely sabotage your pricing strategy by shouting from the mountains that you'll match lower prices, even if you have a plan. Norstrom doesn't broadcast their policy, the Times reports, but if a customer asks if they match prices, associates and managers immediately begin talking about the specifics of the policy.
Other companies have begun training their employees in recognizing customers who might appear up in the air and might be pushed along toward a purchase by the opportunity to negotiate. This can include stopping a customer as they're leaving the store and only then letting them know that you'll match or undercut a competitor's price.