Should you put prices of your products on your website?
- June 14th, 2012
I recently had the age-old discussion with a client about whether in today’s online environment a marine or RV dealership should advertise prices on their website. We have previously discussed this topic regarding marine management software pricing and the strategy we use to show potential customers our pricing at Exuma Technologies, but never regarding our customers’ practices. Since this debate has been going on for ages, I’m not attempting to solve it now. Instead, let’s review the pros and cons of both sides of the argument and let you decide what is best for your store.
To price or not to price
After talking to numerous dealers, it seems there are two schools of thought:
Customers are just price shopping online and if you provide them with a price they have no reason to contact you. Force them to call or email you to request a price so your sales people can control the conversation. Or…Customers are doing research on product information and pricing online and for them to pay attention to your products and prices you are as transparent as possible with them, providing them a competitive price without any forced contact.
The thing that most dealers agree on is that customers are going to, at some point, visit your website. When in the sales process this happens is up for discussion. Are they visiting your website before they visit your physical location? This is an important fact to know when deciding how and when to present your pricing. Much like pricing software, all deals are not the same and several factors contribute to what a final price on any RV or boat will be for the customer. Trade values, financing ability and negotiations all have been known to adjust a final sales price. How do you control all of those moving factors online without contact from the customer?
Not publishing pricing on your website
Let’s walk through the process: A customer comes to your website to browse your inventory. Your website should act as your salesperson as they browse, since that is the contact point the customer is choosing to make with your business. Your website should be answering the customer’s questions about whether or not a particular unit is right for them and their family, whether it has the options and features they are looking for, and whether or not it fits in their budget. If you do not publish pricing, this last question is left unanswered for the customer and they are left with a choice. Hopefully, the information you provided about a unit is compelling enough, or their intention to purchase is strong enough to induce a call, email or contact to the dealership. At this point, your sales person can interview the customer and provide them with a price.
The possible consequences of this strategy are two-fold. One is that the customer is frustrated by the forced contact to get a price and instead starts shopping on a site that publishes prices (even if they are actually higher prices than you would have quoted).
The second possible consequence is the salesman burnout factor. I’ve heard from Dealership Sales Management that “salesmen hate internet leads”. They are often incomplete, with the shopper only leaving an email address and no actual phone number. Or the sales people get burned out trying to follow-up and contact people who during the previous night were actively shopping online but today are unavailable or unreachable.
However, a great “pro” to this is when contact is made with the shopper, it is made by your trained sales person: Someone who can answer their questions, try to guide the shopper into a visit to the dealership, or in to the next step in the sales process. If your dealership is interested in a higher volume of leads that are left for your sales people to qualify, it might be worth evaluating your pricing strategy.
Next week we will cover the pros and cons of publishing pricing on your website and then wrap-up with some ways to test and measure your online campaigns. Whether you agree with the concept of withholding pricing or not, we would love to hear from you.
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