There are five elements of a pricing strategy necessary to remain competitive: 1. Competitive variable pricing 2. A price-matching policy 3. A robust price-shopping routine 4. Innovative use of technology and 5. Good retailing practices. All of these tactics are highlighted in depth in an article featured in Hardware Retailing magazine’s March 2015 issue.
Here we focus on price-matching policies and how to train your sales associates to ensure your policy is effective and prevents customers from leaving your store to shop at a competing home improvement store.
First, it is important to establish what your price-matching policy entails. Do you match brick-and-mortar stores’ prices? Do you match online prices? Is shipping included in the final online price comparison? Do you apply an additional percentage off of competitors’ prices?
Once you’ve decided on your terms, clearly identify them in a written statement that can be handed to employees and placed in the break room. Employees should never be hesitant about responding when a customer asks about matching a competitor’s price.
Having the policy written down is important so employees have a point of reference, In addition, be sure your employees know how to use the policy effectively by acting out different scenarios at your next company meeting.
Below are different situations your employees may face. Have an employee play the role of the customer and you act as the employee. Included with each scenario are specific points that you should stress employees communicate with the customer. This exercise will verify that employees fully understand the policy and know how to capitalize on it to retain customers.
- Customer brings in a competitor’s ad: Instruct the employee to share the terms of your store’s price-matching policy. Have the employee stress the added value your store provides, be it convenience, high-end customer service or the skill to talk them through the steps of product installation.
- Customer shares a competitor’s price via phone: Have the employee explain your store’s price-matching policy. If you match online prices but include shipping costs in the total, explain that to the customer so the price comparisons are apples-to-apples. Stress to customers that they get to purchase and take home a product from your store immediately, and you offer easy in-store returns.
- Customer spends a lot of time examining the product. Employee can tell he is having a difficult time making a decision: Have the employee approach the customer and ask detailed questions about what he is looking for, and whether he is considering any alternate brands or substitute products. If he mentions a cheaper price somewhere else, have your employee mention the price-matching policy.
- Customer is browsing phone while looking at products: Have the employee approach the customer and ask about her purchase. The employee should not immediately assume customers are price shopping because they could simply be sending text messages. If an employee is sure a customer is looking at competitors’ products online, bring up the terms of your store’s price-matching policy. Emphasize that the product prices online do not factor in shipping costs, and a purchase at your store means he or she can leave with that product in hand as opposed to waiting for shipping.
- Customer brings in a competitor’s ad asking you to match the price, but the product is not the same as yours: Have the employee share the terms of your store’s price-matching policy, and stress the fact that you only price match identical products. Have the employee explain differences between the two products, such as your product’s higher-quality brand or additional features.