When my wife and I decided to open two independent on-line stores, we agreed on three absolute guidelines:
- Fair prices day in and day out
- No shipping charge on all USA orders
- No discount sales unless we have discontinued inventory to liquidate
Why are these guidelines so important to us?
We are a small family business that strongly believes consumers deserve honest transactions. Every sale should offer the customer a fair price for the item they are buying. Why should the price change because of retail traditions of mark-downs, sales, and clearances? Our prices are carefully calculated to provide a modest profit. This price can’t be reduced or we would lose money on every transaction.
Free shipping is actually a lie. The shipping cost is not really free. Retailers include the shipping cost into their retail price when offering “free shipping”. For low priced items, most retailers charge shipping because adding the shipping cost into the price raises the retail price beyond what their competitors charge. We understand why most retailers use the phrase, “Free Shipping” as a marketing ploy. And, we disagree with the practice.
We include the shipping cost in our retail price, even if the item is a $5 coloring book. For us, including the shipping cost in the retail price is a convenience for our customers. The price you see for a product includes delivery to your door. It is as simple as that.
Retail discounted sales is a deeply researched and studied issue. Most of these studies are centered around the psychology of consumers being driven to buy by the idea of saving money. We do not disagree with that theory. Yet, we don’t want to play games with our customers. Our theory is that consumers will welcome a store that has fair prices day in and day out. More importantly, we believe many consumers understand that when a store places on item on sale the store is still earning a profit. If you agree with that premise, then you have to wonder about the level of profit the store makes on their regular (non-sale) price.
As a small business, our expenses are low, our retail prices are fair, and our profits are modest.
We are a retired couple with decades of business experience. You can blame it on our age, but we shy away from social media. Instead, we rely on word-of-mouth and repeat customers to grow our business. Some people have called us old-fashioned because our business philosophy is rather old school – offer fair prices, high quality products, and great customer service. No gimmicks and no games.
It seems to be working just fine us.