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Marieanne Atim: Listing Your Product Prices – Good or Bad Idea?

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For many entrepreneurs, price is a sensitive and difficult topic. From selecting a price point and worrying if it’s too high or too low, price is always a tricky issue. Then there is the issue of communicating your price. In other words telling customers what you think your product is worth.

In the past, this conversation took place when a customer walked into your store but with the advent of the Internet and the introduction of e-commerce, this conversation has also moved to the online space as well. This means that small business owners now carry the additional responsibility of deciding whether or not to list the price of their product or service upfront., This decision might be an easy or difficult one to make depending on what industry you find yourself.

Not too long ago, I overheard two women discussing, excitedly, about a new product that had just been introduced to the market. Lady A had not heard about the product in question and so Lady B logged into Instagram to show her. On getting to the vendor’s page they saw the product with I guess ‘email, call or text for price’ written underneath and one of the ladies immediately ruled that vendor out saying, ‘that’s how you will call and they will tell you it’s 50K.”

Listening to them, I thought to myself, what if the product is actually far less than they were thinking and what an opportunity the vendor had lost! Their conversation got me thinking about why small business owners often ‘hide’ their prices. After some research and discussions with other business owners I found the following to be some of the reasons why they are reluctant to display their prices.

1. To leave wiggle room for negotiation: Some business owners and vendors assert that listing the prices of your products can discourage prospective customers. This is especially true of products that have high competition and can be gotten from the market where prices are generally known to be cheaper. There is also the fact that allowing customers to negotiate gives them more power over the transaction and leads them to eventually buy.

2. To help eliminate unserious shoppers: Some business owners also claim that hiding your prices and requiring interested persons to contact the seller eliminates window shoppers and other vendors who are not really willing to buy but just looking for a way to compare prices.

3. To have an edge over the competition: This is closely connected to negotiation as hiding your prices will enable you give a price cut or match the price of your competition.

4. Industry practice: As an unwritten rule, prices of products may not be displayed and as such you follow the trend.

Indeed the factors above are compelling reasons why you may decide not to list your prices. The question however is, does a business have anything to lose by not listing its prices? The answer is yes, in some cases. And so here are some reasons why you should have your prices listed:

1. Consumers these days are constantly bombarded with a wide array of choices have a limited amount of time to make their buying decisions. Whether in store or online, they want to transact business in the shortest time possible. Having to email, call or text places a demand for extra effort, which they may not be willing to expend.

2. Price is a strong determining factor in the purchase decision. Not having your price listed can eliminate you from the possible options. In addition, not listing your price gives the impression that your prices are very high which may not be true thereby costing you potential customers. Indeed there are some customers that might see an item with a seemingly high price tag and even if they do not have the money at the time, will budget and plan to make that purchase in the near future.

3. Hiding your prices because of the competition may not also be a great idea. For one, being in the same industry, you most likely sell at about the same prices and there is a minimum price beneath which you will not sell anyway. And no matter how much you want to keep it secret there is a high chance they already know your prices. Rather than competing on the basis of price, you can gain an edge over your competitors by focusing on other elements such as packaging or better still service delivery.

Having your price listed also saves you time and energy as you can be fairly certain that anyone who contacts you has made up their minds and is ready and willing to buy therefore helping you automatically weed out time wasters.

Although these suggestions might not be applicable to some service based businesses as each client has a unique set of needs and requirements, it will definitely favor retail based businesses to list their prices.

As a business owner, do you have your prices listed or not? As a customer, does the price listing affect your decision to buy?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Sam74100

Project Manager and Certified Small Business Consultant at Owens & Xley Consults. I work with entrepreneurs looking to start, grow or bring structure to their business. I am passionate about building sustainable organizations. Website: www.owensxley.com Twitter: @owensxley Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/owensxley

15 Comments

  1. Wandidoo

    October 7, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    I think this is really important for us consumers. Putting your price out there only helps us budget and know whether to buy or not…so what if its not in our price range, at least we know and can plan to buy your product!

  2. Ngodoo

    October 7, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    You literally spoke my mind. I’ve been attracted to items especially clothes on Instagram and just to scroll down and see ” if interested visit this website or call this number .” I think this is a business killer. It weakens me to go through the stress of calling or going to a website. Just post the prices and you’ll have ready buyers contacting you.

  3. Jo!

    October 7, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    I agree with you 100%. I believe including their price is why DGL is soo succesful on IG

  4. The real D

    October 7, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Since rental real estate is something my hubby and i are interested in getting into, a short while back he signed for a training, just to have an idea on how things are done and to also give us an edge and something they were told at the training was that with rental properties, price is the very last thing you bring up, offer to show the property and huge selling points of the property before bringing up the whole $$$$ discussion. They were actually told that if at possible price should not be discussed over the phone especially with prospective clients that are yet to see the property. The point of going this route is to ensure that your customer has had the opportunity to see and hopefully appreciate what their money will be getting them, i.e you have sold them on the product before money comes into play, and it is also easier to follow up with a client that is maybe on the fence.
    .
    However, there are other products and services that i think should be posted like MUAs, there are so many options in Nigeria and really i am one of those people that believes if you are telling me your services/products are worth something then you truly believe it is worth that but it is left to me to decide if it is worth paying that much for what you are offering. Now don’t just post prices, post pictures of YOUR work too so we can see. Or people selling clothings, shoes, for some other things i think those need to be posted so i don’t get any WOTs (waste of timers) asking prices but also add information on the product, like cotton, polyester, dry clean only. For some, please may I suggest stating price ranges, for example price starts at N75k and up, so at least customers know like minimum cost for a certain design e.g Printing companies.

  5. GY Olinze

    October 7, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    I enjoyed reading this article! I think it will be an additional advantage to just display the price and save yourself, esteemed & prospective customers resources.

  6. Zhemaks

    October 7, 2015 at 5:43 pm

    For me. I prefer the prices stated upfront.if I like a product or service, Price is my no. 1 determining factor for buying. I don’t need the extra stress of calling, emailing or visiting another link unless I know the price. I won’t even bother, I’ll move to other competitors.

  7. Are We there yet?

    October 7, 2015 at 6:24 pm

    unfortunately, Nigerian products are all imported without direct purchase in wholesale format. So the vendor will have to be hush hush about the price, cos they factor in all fees before setting their sale amount.

    Nigeria does not have an MSRP culture yet. Manufacturer Suggested retail price is the reason why your foreign items are sold at similar prices at all stores. Barneys, Macy, Neiman, NOrdstroms, Harrods, Primark, whoever has MSRPs they abide bye for competition sake, wherever they are selling same item from a designer. I know primark is low budget but yall get my gist as per retail outlets that sell shoes.

    some designer stores have made sale of their items exclusive to particular stores around the world; so the average naija merchant selling Louis Vuitton will not sell at the comparable in-store rate.

    • OmogeNaija

      October 10, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      Hello Are We There Yet,
      Not all products found in Nigeria are imported, there is a certain (shameful ) percentage that is made in Nigeria,.
      Many of us argue that most made in Nigeria items are of low quality, some are and some are very good quality; just like you will find high and low quality in China.

  8. Gloria

    October 7, 2015 at 8:34 pm

    Depending on the type of business I think displaying your price beneath the item saves the hassle of back and forth between both parties. If for instance I sold clothes I will be sure to include even the sizes available. It will definitely attract only serious buyers. It can also be tricky as many business owners find cheaper produced goods and can beat the competition. However I believe in a country of 150million there’s market for everyone, hence I remain with putting my price upfront. Great article ms. Marie-Anne we hope to see more.

  9. naxie

    October 7, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    really nice piece Gwems! More terrible if our telecoms network provider frustrates the call or the vendor does not reply the email . The customer may likely not visit that vendor because first impression counts. I’m think it’s also an advantage for customers to know that your shop or site can give them some basic info just when they need it.

  10. regina

    October 8, 2015 at 9:49 am

    Everyone needs to read this!!! .I would say for the customers it would be preferable if the price is there, most people already have the mind set that because the price is not there its expensive, and apart from that its saves a whole lot of undesired stress of calling or going further to enquire for the price, also it can be to the advantage of the seller, in a situation whereby a person just unexpectedly comes across a product, without the mind set of shopping, the price most especially can draw the attention of the person and also causes impulse buying which is to the advantage of the seller. so if you ask me I would say its a “win win” situation.

  11. Tosin

    October 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    cooool and stealable. I don’t even know what I’m selling 🙂 let alone the price, if any.

  12. Ready

    October 8, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Although sellers may have misgivings about posting prices (particularly on instagram!), I think businesses should realize that a solid brand will have its customers regardless of price. I really don’t want to send an email, and then remind you on the IG post that I sent you an email and a whatsapp message.
    You’re not doing me a favor by selling me a good. Designers, bakers, and those who render services based on customer’s preferences are justified. However, if you’re selling a dress or fabric that you imported from the obodo (all ye fabric merchants & Instagram boutiques) and have a predetermined price, please save us the hassle of using 3 platforms to seek responses.

  13. sarafina

    October 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

    Extremely intriguing and impressive article. Thumps up Gwemo. We hope to see more of these interesting write ups.

  14. OmogeNaija

    October 10, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    I so relate with this article.
    I am an entrepreneur and I do business on social media, I post pictures of my purses with a few words, if a potential customer enquires about the price, I post it right under the picture but then encourage them to contact me for further discussions. More often than not, they contact me and I make the sale.
    I am not scared to post my prices because I am confident of the quality

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