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Brett Sutherlin

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To Price or Not to Price: That is the Question!

In this modern age of transparency, dealers can get somewhat confused on the subject of pricing. Should they provide upfront pricing on their website, or ask customers to engage with their site first before receiving the dealership’s best price?

The industry is pretty divided on this topic, with consultants, trainers and others on both sides of the fence. On one side are those who feel that providing the best price on the dealer’s website without asking the customer for any engagement (no call-to-action), will cause the consumer to appreciate the transparency and choose that dealer. On the other side are those who feel that providing pricing without first requiring some form of engagement can, in fact, hurt sales.

First Theory: Provide Price Upfront – Those who have this opinion believe that today’s consumers are accustomed to fast information access. Consumers want immediate gratification and results, the same as they get from Google searches or browsing most other retailer’s websites. They can then take that information and make buying decisions. Those dealers perceived as the most helpful and transparent will win the business – especially with a significant purchase such as a new vehicle.

Second Theory: Get the consumer to engage before you show price, such as with an automated pricing tool on the site. Those in the industry who subscribe to this opinion feel that if you provide pricing upfront, shoppers will merely use it to price shop other dealers until they find the lowest price. By giving pricing information up front, without some form of engagement first, the dealer risks consumers price shopping without having a chance to first consider that dealer’s unique selling propositions including customer experience, amenities and other benefits such as free loaner cars, car washes, etc. Getting a consumer to engage first, perhaps with a quick price tool on the site, can increase leads and provide more opportunity to sell the vehicle than full pricing transparency.

Depending on the dealership's thought processes either could work. But, is there a "right" way that all dealers should follow to convert the most consumers and/or sell the most cars via their website?

What do you think is the best theory? Let me know with your comments below. I think this will prove to be a lively discussion!

Bart Wilson

I fall in the "First Theory" camp.  Transparency builds trust, and trust is essential to any successful transaction.  

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