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Do The Deals Ever End?

Close every sale with new online and mobile initiatives

January 23, 2013 By Peter Weedfald
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The power of the Internet’s always-on connectivity has reduced product prices, shuttered brick-and-mortar retailers and decimated MSRPs. Barcode reader apps, like Red Laser, offer instant access to the lowest price and special deals from a multitude of competitors. Consumers have opted into thousands of brand-exclusive networks and social groups for instant discounts.

If that’s not enough to strike a sense of hopelessness into the hearts of CE retailers, all types of specialdeals are pushed around the clock to mobile devices and then spread with viral intensity to social networks and other empires populated with millions of “friends.”  On top of that, Showrooming pushes the lowest price to consumers at the last three feet of the sale, forcing retailers to try and match whatever deal the cloud offers at that particular moment. Shackled with hefty SG&As, retailers must find new ways to compete, increase margin, elevate customer satisfaction and draw traffic.

Increasingly, purse-proud consumers will continue to seek out and embrace smartly pulled and pushed prices offered at the cash register clouds. At the same time, though, CE retailers, e-tailers and brand vendors are busy exploring new sales and marketing opportunities to leverage this paradigm shift.  

Here are some of the competitive push-pull pricing initiatives independent and regional retailers face today. While these strategies may seem daunting, retailers of almost any size can adopt pieces of them to fit their budgets and resources.

Group Buying: Millions of consumers now exercise their collective buying power through a host of cloud and social networks like Groupon, Living Social, GoNabit and DailyDeal. Even Walmart uses Facebook to run group buying deals, gathering tens of thousands of “likes” to make sales happen within 24 hours.

Flash Sales: These are all about time-limited offers and are mainly focused on dumping excess inventory. Many companies have successfully garnered instant sales and profits using Twitter or Facebook flash sales programs. Flash sales are a shiny starter key that canturn over the revenue and profit engine again and again.

Dynamic Pricing: Think Priceline, Orbitz, Travelocity and hundreds of others that “re-condition” standard published prices based on excess inventory. The sites dynamically raise and lower prices based upon availability and consumer demand.

Geo-demographic Selling: With consumers willingly broadcasting their physical locations, brands and retailers can push the deal of the minute at the point of sale. The best at this use a CRM data mining system to feed highly relevant offers - based on age, product and service preferences, and household incomes - to a targeted audience. Imagine that it’s back-to-school time and 14-year-old Jenny is walking with mom past the GAP when an instant message pings Jenny’s phone to let her know the new Lady GaGa backpack is on sale at 40% off for the next ten minutes … and just 20 feet away from mom’s wallet.

Membership Has Its Privileges: Club retailers - Costco’s, Sam’s Club, BJ’s, etc. – have established thriving online niche communities. E-member sales are considered a “privilege” that consumers are willing to pay for either with an e-club card, through consistent purchases or by providing personal information.

Expect more e-instant pricing pandemonium as the model continues to capture and drive volume sales. Thesestrategies, though, aren’t just for the big boys. Your company can and must explore, harness and deploy its own creative and effective online, mobile and in-store (omni-channel) sales and marketing strategies, all designed to address competitive pricing pressures, launch new products, move excess inventory, expose your brand, drive sales and, of course, increase profits.

In this push-pull consumer-centric world, pricing matches and rematches are instant and constant. The deals seem to never endbecause consumers are conditioned to expect that they will find a better one at the next turn. And they eventually will, preferably from a smart independent retailer with professionally trained sales people that are not only sensitive to pricing demands but understand how to add the value, provide the customer service and create the full solutions in ways that the cloud can never replicate.  That could be your store. You can make it happen.
 
Peter Weedfald is president of Gen One Ventures and author of Green Reign Leadership
 

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