Consumers spend approximately 79 days researching a major purchase, with 80% of these consumers starting the process online, according to GE Capital research. During this time, consumers compare different product models and, most importantly, prices.
New technology is empowering retailers to take control of online price comparisons. Beyond Stores, a furniture eTailer that sells to consumers in the U.S. and Canada, has partnered with PriceWaiter to better connect with consumers during the pivotal researching process, according to Mark Ginsberg, Head of Marketing for Beyond Stores.
Using PriceWaiter, consumers are able to suggest a new price for a specific product. If consumers like an item, but can’t afford the price, they click the “make an offer” button, name their price, and include their shipping ZIP code and any comments. A Beyond Stores representative will then accept or reject the inquiry.
“The feature has really helped us increase sales and engage consumers in the midst of the buying process,” said Ginsberg in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Rather than going to other sites to compare prices, they can negotiate with us to fit their budget.”
Typically, online shoppers don’t have the chance to interact with eTailers in a face-to-face manner like they get to do in brick-and-mortar stores, Ginsberg explained. But “PriceWaiter has allowed that interaction to take place, as well as improve customer service and support.” The eTailer, as a result, has seen sales improve. Of all offers made through PriceWaiter, approximately 25% of them eventually turned into conversions.
“At any point in the shopping experience, consumers can click on the button so that the interface pops up and they can see the guidelines we have,” Ginsberg said. But overall, “the more reasonable offers have a much better chance of being accepted.”
Ginsberg said that while some shoppers begin the negotiation process with unrealistic offers, “we oftentimes see them come back with a better price. We also have situations where customers will contact us if they find a specific product on a different site at a lower price. We look into that option and try to match it to prove we do what we can to give our customers the best experience they can have.”
From a customer service standpoint, PriceWaiter provides retailers with price-matching capabilities “as another form of customer contact and communication,” Ginsberg said. Now, “people are more comfortable using it and just bidding on furniture in general. We’re seeing more people engaging in this process, and as a result, we’re seeing larger dollar figures on offers, as well as more conversions.”
The price-matching tool has been added to all products on the Beyond Stores site, Ginsberg noted. However, the eTailer also has the ability to customize which product pages feature the “make an offer” button.