Let’s image a situation that everyone has experienced at some point: we go to a store to buy a pair of pants, for example. We take a look at what we find there, and see several models we like. Even before we try anything on, we look at the price, and if we think it’s acceptable, we decide whether to try the pants on or keep looking. Exactly the same thing happens if we want to buy a book: we search, we look at the price, and if we have seen it at a cheaper price elsewhere, we leave it.
Like it or not, the price is one of the main reasons why a customer will buy in one store or another. When we buy something offline, the price is something that is totally closed. We are all used to seeing the RRP, which establishes the amount that we must pay for the item. This RRP is a sort of contract. You can take it or leave it, but once you go to the check-out, you know what the deal is.
This doesn’t happen in eCommerce. An item may have a certain price, but to this price must be added the delivery expenses, at least. This is not a problem: it’s part of the rules of the game, and so it’s something accepted by customers.
However, in some eCommerce stores prices don’t include some extras, such as the VAT tax in Europe, so the final price increases even more. If you think about it, we are all used to being told “This costs X”, but we are never told “and this is the total price after adding VAT”. The most similar thing I can think about is sales discounts, but there the price is decreased, so everyone’s happy 🙂
This is quite frequent in online stores, but you can avoid it or handle it in the best possible way, as feeling frustrated is one of the main reasons why customers abandon their shopping carts. As we said, every online shopper naturally assumes that there will be delivery costs. Nowadays, they are a variable that many stores use to attract customers by removing them for a certain time or when a certain purchase amount is reached. However, some stores even increase the total sale price depending on the payment method chosen, so that they are passing the intermediary’s fees on to the customer. This obviously generates a very bad image, which is a very good reason for a buyer to find another option.
Ideally, product prices in your online store should resemble the RRP in traditional stores as much as possible. It should change as little as possible. It should include VAT, of course, and if you want to include any fees charged by intermediaries, they should be included from the start, not as a further step which increases the final price. It’s like the “free delivery” expenses which are usually included in the purchase price. But what does the customer perceive? That we are “covering” the price of sending the purchase, so he or she will possibly choose your site.
You must decide whether you want to give a feeling of transparency and clarity from the start. Otherwise, you might want to consider filling your online store with the tag “from X dollars”, as in car ads, because the amount you are displaying is really the starting price.
If customers are attracted by what seem to be very good deals which ultimately are not so (see the example below), they will probably feel deceived and you will lose the sale. Actually, this is not the problem, but rather that you may have lost a customer forever. So don’t overlook the way in which you handle price information in your online store.