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If you’ve been looking for cheap office supplies online or discount stationery in your town, then by now you’re probably feeling like you’ve stumbled onto the set of Carry On At The Circus. It’s difficult to get a read on what’s a suitable price to pay for pens, paper, printer ink or biscuits – specially when you’re ordering in large quantities. Whomever your supplier is, you’re likely to achieve massive savings over high-street prices.
On the other hand, you can still wind up paying 2-3 times within the odds. A price reduction promotion or buy-one-get-one-free offer is actually a warning signal, and more than likely forms part of a pricing strategy which will look at you paying more for stationery and office supplies.
If you’re a financial director or office administrator, you might be clued in the big secret – as well as the rest of us, here’s usually the one secret that’s going to wipe off as much as half your office supplies expenses in just one swift movement:
Stop searching for discounted office supplies – It’s not really a call to arms over quality control – for many situations, it may even be appropriate to choose your budget option instead of the high-end one. Nor will it be about wastage and logistical planning, although proper cost analysis is a crucial element of controlling your office budget. Rather, it’s a matter of Bayesian signalling; Gricean logic; and, ultimately, fundamental principles of pricing. Though there are complicated concepts at work, it boils down to simple human nature.
We’re hard-wired to visit after the option with the big shiny ‘discount’ sticker on the front – even when it’s more expensive. It’s a bizarre little quirk from the human brain, and something that’s difficult to switch off – as US retailer JC Penney discovered to their ongoing regret.
Back in 2012, the supermarket giant announced they were putting an end for their promotional pricing strategy, which saw everyday staples in a permanent discount. Like most supermarkets, JC Penney was artificially inflating their shelf prices before providing them with an arbitrary discount. Occasionally, a 50% discount was really a 10% increase on the recommended retail price.
The incoming CEO Ron Johnson announced a shift to an alternative, ‘honest’ system of pricing without the fake discounts; two-for-one deals; coupons; prices ending in 9 or 7; or other shifty tactics. The new system was intended not just to lower prices, but to aid consumers make informed decisions about their groceries and budgets. The truth that Honourable Ron became Jobless Johnson within under a year probably lets you know how successful that strategy worked.
Customers abandoned JC Penney in hordes, some with a sense of anger over the things they perceived as a betrayal; revenue and share price went into freefall; as well as the company quickly returned for their previous strategy of artificial markdowns. When offered the identical products with a lower pricetag, customers still preferred to pay the greater price – as long because it experienced a discount sticker into it.
In fact, JC Penney customers were so offended from the disastrous strategy that brand loyalty not only went down, with perceived trustworthiness falling as prices decreased; but stayed down too. The company actually issued an apology to jilted shoppers, nevertheless the customer base stayed away until prices were raised – in some cases more than they originally were. A business commentator had this to state:
“The bargain-hunting website dealnews has since commenced tracking prices at JC Penney. Exactly what it has discovered would be that the prices of certain items-designer furniture, particularly-have risen by 60% or more at JC Penney almost overnight. One week, a side table was listed at $150; a couple of days later, the “everyday” price for the same item was as much as $245.”
Discount pricing strategies are basically par for your course on the high-street – and, since the BBC uncovered, most of them are as arbitrary and misleading as JC Penney’s. And, for the most part, they make sense from the B2C perspective. The Chartered Institute of advertising claims that attention spans are restricted to 8 seconds, instead of the 12 seconds that they were in the early 2000s.
We live in the information age: a arena of multitasking; 140 characters; ‘top 10 everything’; truncation and enumeration and fast food; where consumers have to make decisions quickly based upon limited information. Discounting is an immediate recognisable signal that a wise purchasing decision will be made, (whether true or not).
* For a person involved in B2B procurement, however, discount pricing needs to be public enemy number one.
* Unfortunately, every workplace out of your local chip shop for the state of New York has at one time or other fallen victim towards the same ruses that operate in the supermarket.
* Promotional pricing strategies at the office
* It’s often said disparagingly of politicians that they don’t know the price of a pint of milk, (or perhaps in the case of the mayor of brand new York, the price of a pen and paper).
In all honesty, however, none of us do. Milk, bread, along with other staples are usually far cheaper than they should be – for a variety of reasons:
They may be used as being a loss leader, to attract in customers who’ll then pay more for other considerations.
They might be inferior-quality versions utilized to undercut competitors.
They may be bundled with other items as an element of an up-sell; sandwich-drink-and-snack deals at lunchtime are a wonderful example, but you can find invisible examples like coffee strainers and coffee (or printer and printers).
They might be employed to build trust or complacency within the shopper, who can often judge all the prices of the retailer based on the first or most frequent items that they buy from them.
They can use secrets to human perception – including charm pricing (like.9 or.7); pricing under benchmarks (such as £1, £5, £10 etc); or even just including information seems relevant but isn’t. Something which is advertised as “Only £1.99 once you buy 2!” may look like a reduction, however if the single unit costs £0.99 then it’s actually more expensive.
All of the tricks outlined above, utilized for milk and bread, apply equally well to equivalent office basics like pens and paper. You can verify that yourself with just a couple of minutes of searching – or checking your most current receipt.
In day-to-day life there’s very little we can do concerning this kind of obfuscation. Not many people have enough time, resources or inclination to analyze and compare grocery prices upon an item-by-item level – and the opportunity costs of rushing from supermarket to supermarket in the search for the least expensive potatoes by gross weight actually probably reeydf the rewards. That’s why JC Penney’s customers are slowly returning because the costs are rising.
A company facing similar purchasing options, however, has the advantage of a financial director to safeguard its decision-making process.
There’s still scope, even or perhaps especially in the age of information, to possess someone on staff who can perform considered, researched procurement. Somebody that can spend some time to perform a proper cost analysis; engage in slow thinking; and are available to your conclusion based upon facts as opposed to on sound and fury.
While honesty didn’t work out so well for Ron Johnson, we at CP Office still feel that it’s both worthwhile and worth a shot. So, unlike a number of other stationers and vendors of office supplies, we choose to provide an impartial cost analysis to our own potential customers, in addition to the benefit from our genuinely huge discounts. With CP Office, there’s no fuss without any tricks – just an honest discussion about what’s right for you along with your office.