How to set competitive prices

A couple look at a receipt and wince at the prices

Regular sales are vital for your business so encouraging your customers to continue to buy from you should be top of your to-do list. How can you ensure your products and services remain keenly priced and relevant to your market?

1. Calculate your costs.

Before you consider raising or lowering prices, review the costs involved in producing your goods or services. Look at everything from manufacturing and marketing to insurance and salaries. Assess whether the prices you're charging will make decent margins - anything between 20 and 40 per cent above cost value is regarded as a good return.


2. Consider the competition.

Research your competitors regularly. Find out who's offering similar products and services and the prices charged. Check websites, talk to suppliers - even invest time in mystery shopper surveys. This enables you to assess whether your prices are right for the market and if your products are being merchandised effectively to maximise sales.

3. Make a loss.

Well, not exactly. A "loss leader" - a product not in itself profitable, but which draws customers - is a well-established competitive pricing tactic. Increased sales of pricier offerings effectively offset the loss.

4. Be unique.

Don't lose sight of what makes your offering special. There may be many different muesli brands out there, but if customers like your particular recipe, chances are they'll pay a little more to keep enjoying it.

5. Don't discount discounts.

It's a risky strategy but worth it if you want to generate a buzz by encouraging large orders - especially for products or services new to market. Don't throw in too many incentives though you'll only eat into your profit and risk betraying a lack of faith in the original proposition.

6. Location, location, location.

Vary prices in the different places where your products are available. You might, for example, be able to offer the same product more cheaply through your website than in a shop, as there are fewer overheads.

7. Target your market.

Consider adapting products to suit the needs of particular customer groups. This might involve offering economy, standard and premium versions. Such an approach (market segmentation) can build loyalty and see customers progress to higher price points as their circumstances and needs change.

8. How would you like to pay?

Sometimes, the method of payment is as critical as being competitively priced. Offering agreed time periods in which to settle a balance is one way to incentivise purchases, particularly on high-cost items. Allowing payments to be made online or by contactless, where relevant, are options your business should offer.

What does the * mean?

If a link has a * this means it is an affiliate link. To find out more, see our FAQs.