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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

November 14, 2011

Value in Your Merchandise

By Patrick Donston

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Money matters
"Price does matter."

Anyone who's been in my shop knows I'm not the cheapest store in my area. There is a margin you have to get to grow and stay in business. With that said, from a consumer's view, “price still matters.” I am aware certain buyers simply won't shop our store because of price. Our challenge is to increase the value of the product so that consumers see the price as a bargain.

I see three general ways to increase value of your products and services:

Monetary Value: The value one sees as a "good price.”

They relate the dollar amount as affordable to the monetary product. Maybe it's cheaper than elsewhere or in range not worth contemplating to shop around. I know we tend to compare our prices to online retailing, but you should look at what it is that clients are pricing online. Generally it's not supplements, fish food, cartridges and conditioners.

Try increasing monetary value by packaging or cross-selling. Examples include: conditioners and fish food; test kits and carbon; algae inhibitors and scrapers; and a mix up of cleaning tools. McDonalds has been doing this for years. Why aren't we? It works. You'll find customers buying more because they're saving more. For high-end products, while our clients may compare online, I try to stay within range and hope the next two values do the trick.

Added Value: A special perk they get when they purchase.

Ideas to Try:
• Buy this set-up, get $ value of fish.
• Buy this protein skimmer or light fixture, get 10-, 15-, 20 percent off next fish, coral or plant purchase.
• Buy this R.O. unit, we'll check your TDS free! (Can't get that online.)

Always put prices on your water testing, even if you do them for free. Your customers will tangibly see a value. Don't forget the added value of no shipping, a satisfying return policy, repairs, parts, demonstrations and instructions your shop has to offer. My advice is "added value" policies should be formatted and displayed. Don't think your customers will assume them. Show them, as these services just may be the decisive factor in a sale.

Subliminal Value: The hidden message one feels when they purchase.

Great advice once given to me was, "Don't spend your money where it isn't appreciated; no matter what the price is." The welcoming, warm-hearted, sincere service you and your staff offer is as important as the price margins you set. It is definitely a trend; people buy from people they like.

My advice is to implement a service policy with your sales staff stating exactly how you want your customers treated. Be clear: Enforce it and check on it often. I know I do, and can't tell you how many times I hear, “Your prices are higher than other places, but I love the help and the health of your fish. It's worth it.”

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