It’s a fact of life. Customers walk into galleries and shops, pull out their smartphones, and look for a better price.
As an artist or maker, you must be aware that the power of the internet puts the public in a position to shop your work on price. This can have an effect on your gallery relationships, and on your reputation.
Anyone can easily try to become a comparison shopper at a store that carries your work. If they search for matching merchandise on your website or another website on their mobile device, it can influence whether or not they make an in-store purchase. And this is a source of constant frustration for many retailers.
Although as a wholesaler you do not have control over retail markups in most cases (unless a price is printed directly on products such as greeting cards), there are a few things you can do to protect your retailers and encourage in-store comparison shoppers to make the purchase there:
Keep your online prices consistent with, or higher than, average retail price. Never undercut your retailers on price. This is a basic principle of wholesaling, and keeps your store buyers happy. But – having even higher prices puts your work out of the running when shoppers compare you, especially considering that there will likely be shipping fees and a wait time before the item is delivered.
Don’t sell or price your work online direct to the consumer. If your primary business is as a wholesale vendor, you may not want to do any direct sales to the public, and this eliminates the price comparison issue. And, you will likely want to send website visitors to the stores that carry your line by listing them on your site with a physical address and their website link.
Don’t include your website URL on your packaging. It is inappropriate to solicit direct online sales through placing your URL on hangtags or packaging shipped to stores that carry your work. If you don’t sell to the public, this isn’t an issue, and your site could be a place where customers learn more about care of your products and your concept. And or course you should direct them to your retailers, as mentioned in the previous bullet point.
Give stores an exclusive on certain items that only they carry. If a store buyer has ordered custom products from your studio, you won’t have merchandise on your website that directly competes with them. Or, if an account requests exclusive branding, you can actually package merchandise differently for that store customer, thereby not offering an apples to apples comparison that shoppers can make.
Has comparison shopping become a problem for your store, or for your store accounts?