Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Pricing Right Delivers Profitable Results

As we near the end of our March Madness of Retail tips, today we discuss a topic that is critical to all retailers’ success. Pricing.

While retailers understand that pricing is a necessary component to doing business, many retailers do not fully factor in product pricing as it relates to the store branding, profitability and the long-term success of their business.

When considering how to price products for your business, you need to think about aligning your pricing strategy with your overall business strategy. Choosing the appropriate pricing strategy will insure your business, sales, and profit goals are in alignment.

There are many pricing strategies that retailers employ however; there are three that are typically employed by independent retailers. While some of the methods are simpler to implement than others, there may be unrealized costs associated with using only one for your business.

Keystone Pricing. This is the most common method of internal pricing in retail today. Keystone pricing is simply the doubling of the wholesale cost of any item. (“keystone”)Wholesale ($5) Ă  Retail ($10). Keystone pricing is the simplest method for pricing and one that can be instituted by any and all staff members rather easily based on the invoice costs of any product in the store.

The challenge with employing this as the only method of pricing is that it doesn’t account for all of other costs associated with selling products in your store. (Commonly known as Sales, General and Administrative expenses – SG &A) This can lead to low profit margins and eventually to restricted cash flows as all expenses are not accounted for with this pricing methodology.

Profit Margin Pricing. When using this method for pricing your products, retailers set prices based on helping your business to achieve certain profit margin goals. This method assures that you business will concentrate its pricing efforts around identified profit targets that will help you to meet your business objectives.

While this type of pricing assures that you cover the all the total costs (CGS and all SG & A costs) the argument against with this type of pricing is that many retailers choose products for their store that are widely distributed across numerous selling channels. With prices for any product being readily available on the internet today, retailers cannot randomly determine retail pricing based on their desired profit targets. Doing so may position your store unfavorably in the eyes of the almighty consumer. Customers today are savvier than ever regarding pricing so you can’t over price just to keep your profit margins high without risking losing them to another business nearby.

Discount Pricing. This method of pricing works best for high volume retailers or retailers who sell a high volume on certain products in their stores. This pricing method employs price reductions (temporary or permanent) to stimulate sales activity including incentive pricing such as special introductions, volume discounts, customer loyalty programs, sales affiliate programs.

Note: It is almost impossible to raise your prices on items once you have established low day in day out prices. Customers will expect that your prices remain low. This sets up a lower profit margin for your store on these products which is very difficult to overcome. You also run the risk of positioning your store as lower in quality versus most of your competitors (whether or not it is true).

Remember, a good overall pricing strategy is a key component to your stores ultimate success. Take the time to choose a strategy that aligns with your business goals, and then continue to monitor how the strategy is working on a monthly basis. This effort on your part will go a long way to building your brand as a unique and important store in the marketplace, and one that keeps your customers coming back time and time again.

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