The benefits of showing your price online far outweigh the downsides.
Start out by thinking about what your objectives you have for your online presence and also think about what your customers want and expect from your website. Recognize that consumers’ expectations, behaviors and preference are changing rapidly on the Internet – trends show consumers expect full-featured, self-service shopping experiences.
Typically, an online consumer wants the following:
- To educate themselves about your product offerings
- To formulate their buying criterion (most shoppers start shopping before they have formulated their criterion and vendors have the opportunity to influence their requirements).
- To see if the product meets their functional, price and aesthetic requirements/preferences
- To see if they trust the vendor
- If the product is configurable, then they will want to find the product configuration that best meets their needs (again, functional, price and aesthetic)
As a vendor, you should think about progressing your online presence through these stages:
- Stage 1: Engaging consumers and capturing leads for a sales person to follow up (this is where most build-to-order vendors are today)
- Stage 2: Qualifying leads and influencing buying criterion
- Stage 3: Closing Sales (Yes, consumers will buy expensive, configurable products online without a sales person involved)
A move from stage 1 to stage 2 can make a dramatic difference in the effectiveness of your online presence – both in terms of sales growth and efficiency. If consumers have self-qualified then their major barriers to purchase have been addressed so they will be ready to purchase. Your sales people can help them verify their selections, help the customers consider extra options or accessories and take the order.
However, you can’t effectively move from stage 1 to stage 2 without sharing your pricing.
What we hear from vendors that are resistant to share pricing is that they don’t want their competitors to know or that they don’t want consumers to shop only based on price. Regarding the first concern, I always recommend doing the best thing for the consumer before worrying about the risk of a competitor exploiting the information. Also, if you don’t share price you will frustrate consumers and lose them. See this good article about showing prices (it is discussing B2B sites but the same issue applies at least as much to B2C sites).
Regarding the second issue, customers shopping only on price, you have control over what information is available to your consumers and whatever you provide will be used as a buying criteria. If all you show is price that will be the only criteria the buyer can use. Give them enough information to engage with you, make it clear why you are different and they will use that as well. But whatever you do, please share your price.