Apparently our Black Friday specials were a little too good. Several disgruntled manufacturers have contacted us regarding their concerns that our pricing was too low. Seems as if a few of our competitors (one in particular) ratted us out and complained that we were unfairly discounting the prices.
Listen, I get that as we grow and become bigger threats to our competition they will use tactics like this as a way to take a shot at us. In a way, it’s a compliment: they’re admitting that because of their bloated inefficiencies that they have no way of competing with us on price. They have crappier websites, larger warehouses, and a lot more employees, which leads to a whole lot more overhead.
I also get that manufacturers want to preserve the integrity and quality of their brand, and therefore do not want to see certain products for sale below certain prices.
Here’s what I don’t get.
First off, it was Black Friday. Get over it. It’s not like these are our year-round prices (although if the volume was this high we certainly could potentially get away with running those type discounts year-round…)
Side note: definition time, from a manufacturers perspective. Customers = who buys the product from you. Consumers = the end user. Sometimes they are one in the same, but usually there is a middle-man like us who is a customer of the manufacturer and sells products to the consumers. Make sense?
Secondly, there is a fool-proof way for all manufacturers to never ever have this become an issue: provide guidelines for all of your customers. As your customers, give us strict price guidelines so that we know what we can and cannot charge consumers. And I’m not talking about MSRP. You give us a “suggested” retail price and we may or may not follow it.
What I’m proposing takes 15 minutes to come up with but avoids years of misunderstandings. Give us real guidelines. What is the absolute minimum we can sell your product for? Can we run sales? If so, for how long?
Let’s say I just created an awesome new blue widget that I sell to my customers for $75. It’s much better than all of the other blue widgets out there that normally sell to consumers for $100, so I’ve decided that I want my MSRP on this particular widget to be $149.99, and I tell my customers as much. However, I also tell them that I’ll allow them to list the product as low as $139.99 at their own discretion. Once per year, for no longer than a month, they can sell it for $124.99. Over Black Friday weekend, it can be discounted as low as $114.99. All other sales require my approval first.
How hard was that? Give us something like that as soon as we place our first order with you and we’ll never ever have an issue. We will strictly abide by your terms. Problem solved.
Or give us no guidance at all. In that case, we’ll do whatever we want.