General

Women’s Consignment Pricing–Are your Prices too high, ..too low?

The prices charged by stores using NextGen’s pricing system vary significantly. Prices for the same brand and category of apparel, accessory or footwear at some stores can be as much as 2.5 times that of others. The primary reasons: 1) demographics or more specifically client disposable income, and 2) competition. Shops serving well-heeled customers with limited competition from large discounters and resale shops are able to charge higher prices than those located in lesser income markets with nearby competition.

The challenge is finding the right level. While pegging prices to a store’s historic sale prices by brand and category makes for consistency, there is no way of knowing whether these prices could and should be higher or lower, i.e. how much is being left on the table.

Herein lies the NextGen advantage. NextGen’s prices are informed by the pricing/sales experience of stores in high to low demographic and high to low competitive markets across North America. In the case of new stores with no sales history of their own, NextGen sets prices based on the new store’s market demographics and competition. In the case of stores with a pricing/sales history, NextGen analyzes their pricing/sales history relative to the histories of stores in like markets in order to identify pricing potentials. Owners generally opt to move to these prices immediately though sometimes gradually so as not to concern longstanding customers.

 

Buy Outright Pricing versus Consignment Pricing

Many NextGen clients are beginning to buy items outright, either selectively or completely.  Perhaps this is in responseto an increasing number of women’s resale “Buy Outright” stores or in an effort to improve sales margins.

The most common question about buying outright is, “shouldn’t we lower our prices to be sure they sell?” …and, by extension, shouldn’t NextGen have a set of lower price points for stores buying outright?

The answer to both is, NO!

It all has to do with your “Pay Price” which is how much you pay to have an item for sale.

  • The Pay Price for most consignment stores is 40-60% of the selling price paid to their consignors.
  • The Pay Price for most buy outright is 20-40% of the selling price paid to the seller of the item.

The lower Pay Price and higher sales margin of buying outright provides for any loss associated with items that don’t sell or sell for less than what the store originally paid for them.

It’s the buying or Pay Price not the selling price that needs to be reduced when buying outright.  While the temptation is to lower the selling price to gain the sale, the right strategy is to be more selective in what you choose to buy.   Bottom-line, the right price for an item depends on the market for it, not how it was acquired.

Takeaway Tip:  Many owners moving from consignment to buying outright often start with selected consignors, customers with items likely to sell within the consignment period.

Note:  NextGen Pricing systems are always calibrated to market, variously based on sales history, demographics, competitive landscape and strategy.

It’s never too late to start pricing right, but far better to price right from the start.

 

The NextGen Pricing System suggests the best price for an item that can be expected to sell within 75 days. Initially, NextGen obtained these data from a limited number of stores around the country. But in the last 2 years, the data base has grown to include stores in most states and provinces in North America. As most of these stores have been in operation for years, their addition to the data base enables Nextgen to better examine pricing strategies relating to area income levels and competition.

What have we learned? Far more stores under-price than over-price1

Why do stores tend to under-price? The fear that higher prices will turn away buyers

Underlying this fear is the assumption that buyer decisions are based on price more than value. This is to say that buyer decisions are driven more by item-specific price ceilings, i.e., “I would never pay more than ten dollars for a pair of sneakers” than on Value, i.e., I would never pay more than $10 for a pair of Converse” sneakers.” While the former mentality may be common among thrift shop customers, our analysis clearly demonstrates that it is the “Value” mindset that is prevalent in better consignment and resale shops, not the “Price” mindset. Simply put: Customers pay more for better brands than lesser brands.

Give your customers credit. They are value conscious and knowledgeable thanks to Google and other internet shopping and price-comparison sites. Always accessible at the press of a button on their smart phone.

What’s to be gained by raising under-prices? Customers, Sales and Profits

Right pricing is not what the market will bear, but what the market will embrace while maintaining timely sales. Dollar sales will increase. Margins—bottom-line profits—will likewise increase. Item sales may not, but should not decline.

Raising the price of under-priced items allows a corresponding increase in the amounts paid for these items. To get better brands, we must pay for them. The more we pay, the more we get.

Right pricing is Fair pricing, meaning fair to seller/consignor as well as buyer. In the end, it’s a win-win-win. The sellers earns more, we owners earn more, and buyers have access to valued items they would not otherwise see.

The Good news? While under-prices cannot be abruptly changed for fear of alienating longstanding customers, prices can be nudged up (optimized) gradually and imperceptibly over a number of years. Clients use the NextGen Pricing system to manage these changes.

1 Certainly, these data could be skewed. Perhaps the over-pricers are gone, having priced themselves out of business. Or just maybe we’re missing the under-pricers who didn’t have sufficient margins to cover their costs of doing business. Let’s reasonably assume a bit of both.

Who sets your Prices?

In retail businesses, it’s safe to say that prices are invariably set by owners be they individuals or corporate, or by managers using pricing conventions provided by the ownership.  This only makes sense as pricing is the revenue side of the bottom line.

When NextGen started working with resale stores, we expected to find the same.  Much to our surprise, pricing in a number of children’s and women’s resale establishments is left largely to employees.

Prices set by employees are rarely optimum when compared to prices obtained by stores in comparable markets; they are most always on the low side.  But as damaging as the profit loss commonly associated with employee under-pricing, is the price inconsistency that comes when employees are left to price largely on their own.  The result is a loss of customer trust.  With inconsistent pricing comes customer uncertainty that the tag price reflects value, and the consequent declination to pay the asking price ( i.e., buy) for items with unfamiliar labels.  Translation > lost sales.

Owners need to own their pricing.  While some employees who’ve been pricing welcome a company pricing system and the reduced anxiety that comes with it, others resist giving up this control.  Indeed, NextGen has had a number of owners decide against the pricing system for fear of losing valued employees vested in the existing pricing—their pricing.  Even with employee support, if customers are accustomed to employee under-prices, prices cannot be bumped abruptly.  Prices must be adjusted incrementally in order not to sour longstanding customers.  Fortunately, the mixed price/value association characteristic of most employee pricing practices, can effectively mask modest price changes.

The time is always right to take control of your pricing, … to take control of your business.