Will local customers be upset to see a lower price online versus at the counter?
With so many benefits, why do so many dealerships choose not to link their dealership websites? Mostly, they’re worried about local customers finding out about the cheaper prices online and getting upset about being “ripped off” at the parts counter.
In truth, this shouldn’t be such a cause for concern.
Most customers won’t even notice.
Most customers won’t think to look online, and when they do, they probably don’t have your in-store prices memorized. As for the few customers savvy enough to figure it out, they’re also savvy enough to find a better price online anyway. It’s better that they buy from you, even if it’s at a lower price than at the counter.
Large retailers do it all the time.
Brands like Target and Best Buy regularly have better pricing online versus in-store. Again, most people don’t notice, and of the customers that do, they aren’t upset. At this point, everyone knows that the internet is more competitive and they expect to see lower prices online. These retailers are happy to price-match online prices to keep customers happy.
Customers will simply be happy to get a lower price.
Why would customers be upset to stumble across a surprise discount? Next time they need to buy something, they’ll know they can buy online from you for a good price. Sure, you won’t make as much profit on the sale as if they had visited your in-store counter. But they’re a loyal customer now, and loyal, repeat customers can have a HUGE impact on the success of your parts website.
Ways to Handle Local Customers When Selling Online
If you’re still concerned about your local customers, there are some simple solutions to keep it from being a problem. Not all of these tactics are recommended, since they can give your customer a poor experience, but in the end the choice is yours.
1. Exclude your local area from seeing your advertising
If you or your marketing agency is advertising with Google AdWords, it's really easy to exclude people within a radius of your location from seeing your ads. This way, you're only marketing to non-local customers.
A lot of customers come to a site from Google Shopping or Google Search campaigns. Even though your online price will still be lower, you won't be advertising it to everyone. Local customers might still find your lower online prices by chance, but this trick will reduce the likelihood of it happening.
2. Price-match the online price
If a customer comes to your parts counter with your website price on their phone, offer to price-match the online price. Sure, it cuts into your total profit, but it also saves you the time and hassle of packaging and shipping the part instead.
It also guarantees that YOU get the sale right then and there. If you refuse to price-match, some customers will decide not to buy from the counter and go online instead. Once they leave your parts department, there’s no guarantee that they’ll buy the part from your parts website.
3. Online-exclusive price
If a customer visits your parts counter to point out the lower online price, you can say that it’s an “online exclusive price/sale.” These kinds of exclusive online sales are common, and customers will usually understand (although some might get not be too happy with this).
They’ll probably choose to order online for the lower price. But again, there’s no way to know that they’ll choose to buy from your parts website. There’s a chance that they’ll find a better price with another retailer and shop with them instead.
4. Not recommended: Exclude local customers from online prices.
You shouldn't post on your website that online pricing is not available for customers in a certain zip code. By simply excluding your local customers from your low online prices, you avoid the matter entirely.
However, this ruins a customer’s experience with you. It will upset them even more than knowing that your online price is less than the counter price, which is why we don't recommend doing it.
5. Not recommended: Charge an extra fee for local pickup.
Even though they can buy at the lower online price, you might be inclined to discourage local customers from buying from your parts website with a fee for pick-up.
Again, though, it’s a poor customer experience that will likely upset buyers. Most customers choose local pick-up to avoid the shipping price, so a fee will lower their opinion of your dealership.
We strongly recommend the price-matching your online price if a customer brings it up at your parts counter. These days, it’s what customers expect. You don’t have to mention to in-store customers that you have a lower price online, but if they’ve done their research and can point out the sale on their phone, it's probably best to give it to them.
They won’t be mad about a lower online price. Instead, they’ll be mad if they’re not allowed to buy at that lower price. It ends up hurting your dealership two-fold, since you’ll lose their online business AND their local business.
At the end of the day, putting your customer first is the best way to gain their loyalty. Linking your parts website and dealership website will give you a worthwhile SEO boost, and it doesn’t have to hurt your local relationships.
(Article by Emilie Vecera. You can read the full article by clicking here.)