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Doug Nebeker ("Doug")
I went to a small local sports shop today to look at running shoes. In the UK, most sports shops actually sell "sport-ish" products and leisure wear rather than products for doing real sport. This shop was the type that sells real sports products.
As I looked at the shoes available, I noticed there were no prices on any of them. So I asked the only person working there why and was this because prices were negotiable. Being a small shop maybe they can be more flexible with pricing; I have negotiated discounts on running shoes before (yes, even in the UK).
She responded something like "Ha, yeah" and then said something along the lines of "It's the product, not the price" and also explained that some customers want to try the shoes before deciding which ones are best for them and then price is something factored in at the end of the decision. So therefore they don't show prices for fear of putting people off trying shoes that might be better.
I agree that the product is very important but price is important too. If anything, this put me off because if I had seen a good/suitable product for me at a good price I would have been thinking about *when* I would buy them. However, I wouldn't want to waste time trying the shoes that are way outside my budget. In particular to running shoes, once you go above about £50 it's difficult to guess the price just from looking at them - they could be £60 or they could be £100.
I think in this case, the shop is asking me to put my faith in the assistant to help me find the shoes at a price to value ratio that I'm happy with. However, as I've never used this shop before, I'm not ready to do that.
By the way, the shop has been in it's current location since the first day I came across it about 5 years ago. It's certainly not a new or young shop.
Two thoughts on this:
1) I bet it's common that customers don't pay the same price for the same item. Not saying this is (morally) wrong but it's not what we're used to in the UK high street and it would annoy me.
2) This would make me feel like walking into one of those super expensive jewelry shops where "if you have to ask how much, you can't afford it".
Honestly I'd walk out right away.
Same with software. If there's no price up front it's almost certainly some consultingware thing where I'll be charged for a salesman to call. No thanks.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
As I said, the shop has been around for quite some time so it's not a scam.
I thought that maybe this is a kind of price elitism: if you know the brand and you know the product's RRP then you can know if the price is good or not. If you don't know, then everything is based on your faith in the assistant.
Personally, I couldn't see the benefit in such an opaque pricing policy.
Now I think of it; a lot of HiFi magazines have adverts from smaller shops listing every price as P.O.A. Maybe they think it's better than publishing an old price or they think that they can make the sale if they get you on the phone.
I want to know the price up-front. If it is too much, I might as well find out before wasting time considering something that I can not afford. If it is low, I look for what might be missing. (Of course, it is not purely binary whether I can afford something. I have to consider priorities.)
It might lead to education. Why is this product so much more (or less)?
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I'd say it's quite a good way of doing business. If you are a serious runner (I'm not), then it would be pretty important to try before you buy. If trying means taking a pair of the running shoes out on a run before deciding whether they suit you or not, then the shop needs to make available a pair of each type in all sizes available for this function.
The reason the shop is still there is because of that service, and you may be surprised at the actual prices.
Pity the poor person who goes to their nearest 'Sports' shop and buys a pair of the 'latest & greatest, gel-cushioned, reflective, etc' crappy Nike/Adidas/whatever 'running' shoes and ends up with damaged feet and shin-splints.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Generally when prices are not advertised it means both expensive and that you're going to be dealing with a commission-based salesman/saleswoman.
Speaking as a salesman myself, it sucks.
The only time it makes sense is when there are many options to choose from, so you need an assistant to help you make a decision - but I'm talking about something such as a sailing boat, not individual options like shoes.
Friday, November 15, 2013
I am guessing it wastes more time. You walk in wanting to buy 90 dollar shoes and you try on 180 ones that feel better. Will some people buy? Sure. But I bet just as many walk away while if you only showed them 90 dollar shoes, they would have found one that fit.
Besides in this day and age, you just asking someone to google the shoe to see if you price is competitive.
That defeats the point of not putting prices on the shoes. For commodity products like shoes where a google can turn up a price in 20s, not having a price is just a waste of time.
Maybe the assistant asks you for a ball park figure about how much you want to spend and points you towards suitable shoes +/-20% of your price ?
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Friday, November 15, 2013
I would be put off too. When people are cagey about the price of something - be it software or shoes - I assume it is because it is very expensive and they want me to "fall in love" with it before I know the price.
I read a lot of books/tips on sales and they all seem to say to never disclose price until you've discussed the product with the decision maker because until they know what the value is, they can't judge the price. And people almost always can and will pay more than they'll tell you if they see that it is a good value.
I know this is largely true, but if I can't find the price in advance, I walk away. I don't inquire because then I'm stuck dealing with a person and I'll feel bad for wasting their time if I don't buy.
When it comes to my own software sales, I will give the price upfront even if it's bad business sense simply because I know people need that information to make decisions and if they can't or won't afford the software, it's better to know up front and save everyone some time and trouble.
It's a terrible policy.
But they do this sort of thing on Rodeo Drive in Hollywood where Big Stars shop. There it is quite unfashionable to discuss money! Talking about prices is for little people, people who don't shop at this exclusive shop that is frequented by the hoi polloi.
In short, you, as a tiny little peasant, were not welcome at their fine and high class exclusive shop for people of proper lineage and finances.
If you have to ask, you can't afford it.
Anyway, this is how you should handle it.
Shop there and find the perfect shoes. Then, sit there fiddling with your phone. When they ask you if they can "wrap that up for you", ask what the price is. When they say it is X pounds, then you say, "I can buy it on line for X/2 pounds. Take it or leave it."
"Generally when prices are not advertised it means both expensive and that you're going to be dealing with a commission-based salesman/saleswoman."
All true. In these types of situations, the salesperson will usually find out what the customer's budget is at the earliest possible time, and make product recommendations accordingly. How you do that with walk-in traffic is beyond me.
"they do this sort of thing on Rodeo Drive"
I imagine the sales clerks on Rodeo Drive can separate the tourists from the people with money, and the advantage of not disclosing price is that if I cheap out and buy the $5000 handbag instead of the $10,000 one, I still get same high status bag to carry my purchase in, and I get to belong to the same echelon as customers who spend twice as much.
"the shop has been around for quite some time"
So they have enough repeat customers to stay in business. Which means they provided a positive experience to enough first time buyers at some point in the past that those buyers kept coming back and told their friends where they bought their sporting goods. If it's good enough for your friend, you won't walk away when the clerk finally gives you a price. But that has a tendency to backfire over time, because as soon as you feel ripped off, you don't go back and you don't recommend it to your friends. It takes a while, but one day the business sees its business dropping off, and they can't figure out why. I highly doubt this business started out treating their customers this way, but over time people get greedy.
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