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Setting Prices? This may help…

At Pricefalls, we allow businesses to offer their products for sale on our marketplace, and we are faced with pricing decisions on a daily basis. During our earliest stages as a company we ran into various issues with helping our merchants decide what prices are appropriate for their products. We noticed in some cases prices were set too high – leading to low volume. In other cases, prices were set too low – leading to minimal profit levels. Through some trial and error, we have come to a few conclusions with regards to taking an efficient approach while setting prices.

  • First off, its key for small businesses to understand that they are “price takers“, not “price makers”. At the end of the day, the consumers are the final decision makers with regards whether or not a product is worth purchasing at any given price. Businesses must make educated decisions based on anticipated consumer demand and therefore, the consumers are actually the ones set the product prices.
  • Make sure you know your competition. If other companies are offering similar products, it’s crucial to have information with regards to their pricing decisions. A good way to begin is to take a look at your competitions pricing by doing a quick search on “Google Shopping” for the products your company offers.  If you want customers to buy your products (especially online) you must make sure your pricing is in line, if not better, than your competitions.
  • Don’t make rash price reduction decisions. If you decide to lower your product prices without understanding the possible repercussions, you may be faced with profit losses, and even a customer revolt when you elect to raise them again in the future. Therefore, when making price cuts (especially substantial ones), it can be helpful to label products at “promotional pricing”. That way you can get a feel for consumer demand without being fearful of upsetting your buyer base if you decide there is a need to raise the price again.
  • Consider testing a dynamic pricing model. This last point is a bit specific to Pricefalls, but relates directly point one (that consumers really the set prices). Many of the listings on Pricefalls are Dutch or (Descending Price) auctions. In this type of setting, product prices fall over a period of time until they reach a level that a customer is willing to pay. Utilizing this type of model allows businesses to look at the price decisions made shoppers in order to come to an appropriate “fixed” price.

It’s clear that these four points are not the end all to pricing inventory. Dependent upon the industry and the size of the business their are a number of other strategies that a company can utilize to efficiently price their products.  However, through some well seasoned advice, along with a bit of trial and error, the strategies above have certainly helped Pricefalls.  If you have any other perspective on how to set prices for inventory please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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e-commerce on the move as more small biz jump on board

The development of the retail market is shifting rapidly away from brick-and-mortar storefronts and toward e-Commerce venues. In an effort to remain competitive, many small business owners realize the need for an online sales outlet, but struggle to overcome the barrier of entry into the online space. A tremendous shift in shopping behavior is imminent as consumers are becoming accustomed to the conveniences of online shopping; it is apparent that traditional brick and mortar sales will continue to fall while online sales rise.

In 1999 online retail sales totaled to $15 billion or .5% of total retail sales ($2.7 trillion)[1]. By 2007, online sales increased to amount to $126 billion or 3.2% of the total retail sales market ($3.9 trillion), where physical retail sales totaled to $3.77 trillion[2]. In 2009, driven by frugal consumer behavior in a down economy, brick and mortar sales fell to $3.55 trillion while e-Commerce sales rose to $134 billion, representing 3.7% of total retail sales and an 15% increase as compared to 2007[3]. By Q4 2009, total e-Commerce sales were up 14.6% from the same quarter a year earlier. Future econometric projections include reports that e-Commerce sales will represent 8% of total retail sales by 2014.[4]

There is and will continue to be a strong upward trend in online sales, especially as more e-commerce related businesses work to develop ways for consumers to purchase products online and to have them delivered to there door the same day. With the above statistics in mind, a sustainable business trend to watch in 2011 will be the increased incorporation of Internet based techniques in order to stimulate business. That being said, not all business owners have the information they need to jump online and experience the benefits to their primarily physical business.

There are various cost effective techniques that allow all types of businesses to capitalize on this trend and benefit from utilizing the Internet. Below I discuss a number of these web-based methods that physical and online retailers, as well as service providers can utilize in order to maximize productivity and the return on investment from using the internet for their public relations, pales, and business branding purposes.

To begin,  here are a few affordable ways people can utilize the Internet to drive retail sales. Whether you want to drive attention to your online storefront or your physical business, these techniques can effectively and affordably provide businesses with the ability to get their voice heard and their products in the eyes of online shoppers.

Develop a Company Website

Small businesses can set up a private website in order to sell their products online. While this is certainly an effective technique, it takes time and technical knowledge to drive traffic to a small website. Furthermore, the customer development of an e-commerce site can be costly, especially if you online intend use it as a small segment of your business. However, there are a number of affordable software providers that can help businesses set up a company website for a relatively low cost. Here are some examples:

Get your products on Internet marketplaces and Comparison Shopping Networks

There are a number of Internet marketplaces and comparison shopping sites that allow businesses to promote products and set up stores. These sites are an effective way of getting  products in the eyes on lot’s of consumers.

There are many sites out there, and some are better than others. It is important to choose a site that will assist you in making sure your listings are up to the marketplace properly and that everything is running efficiently. Sites like eBay and Amazon are marketplaces that allow businesses to list and sell products, and drive a considerable amount of traffic. However, it is really up to the small business to manage their virtual storefront, keep the inventory current, and to run the overall operation efficiently. There are some other online marketplaces and comparison shopping networks that provide a more enticing value proposition and either take a more one on one approach and help businesses throughout the entire process, or provide a more affordable alternative to the larger marketplaces. Here are a few:

Internet Marketplaces
(Sites that allow consumers to buy your products on the platform):

Pricefalls (
eCrater (
Bonanza (

Comparison Shopping Sites
(Sites that drive consumers to your website to buy products):

Google Product Search (

TheFind (

Furthermore, there are a number of additional creative online techniques that can help generate brand awareness and to stimulate a buzz about for small and medium sized businesses. For instance, if run properly, an online sweepstakes can be a great way to generate lot’s of publicity at low cost.

I have had success running Youtube campaigns on the new Xbox 360 slim and my company utilized a well known technology reviewer (John4Lakers) in order to promote the giveaway, as well as Pricefalls.

Here is a link to the video:

As you will see, the video has received 82,000+ views. So, in exchange for an Xbox (~$250), we were able to get our company name in front of tens of thousands of people – many of which proceeded to register to the site.

If you are a start-up or don’t already have a large following, it can be helpful to promote your giveaway on various sites such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. In addition, here are some web-based distribution sites that allow businesses to post promotions and in turn let consumers know about the active sweepstakes and giveaways:

The internet is a tremendous resource that is becoming increasingly necessary for small and medium sized businesses to tap in to.


[1] United States Department of Commerce E-Statistics Report. (Published 07 March 2001)

[2] U.S. Census Bureau, ”E-Stats, 2007 E-commerce Multi-sector Report” (published 28 May 2009); .

[3] U.S. Census Bureau, “Quarterly Retail E-commerce Sales” (published February 16, 2010); .

[4] “Forrester Research 5-year forecast” (published March 08, 2010); .

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