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Negotiation: Prices Are Just Suggestions

In the book, Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and The Gender Gap, authors Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever shed light on what should be some startling statistics. For example, men initiate negotiation four times more often than women, and women are 2.5 times more likely to feel apprehension when negotiating. Women are also more pessimistic about how much they should negotiate for, so they typically ask for and get less when they do negotiate—on average, 30 percent less than men.

While negotiation is a skill we should all optimize, the fact is, aside from homes and cars, electronics are one of the easiest purchases to negotiate. As an industry, electronics retailers operate on smaller margins than other retailers, but unlike other retailers, they are highly motivated to move through inventory as technology changes, new models emerge, and they are stuck with worthless product in a short period of time.

So, what’s a girl to do? Negotiate. Here are three quick tips to make sure you get the best deal, even if you are a negotiation novice.

1. When shopping in a brick and mortar, come armed with two questions: “What can you do?” and “I’d like to speak to your supervisor.”
The question “What can you do?” opens the door for negotiations and lets your sales person know that you are a savvy shopper who knows there are deals to be made. Whether the box is a little scuffed, only the floor unit is available for purchase, it’s not the color you want, or you have seen a better price somewhere else, you are in the position to make the sale work for you. Many retailers still have commission-based employees whose paychecks are determined by achieving sales and bonuses by reaching a quota. They want to work with you to get the sale.

The question “I’d like to speak with your supervisor” opens several avenues. Going back to the example of the clerk working off commission, you can image they do not want to give up that sale to their manager who would likely get the credit if you speak to them. It lets the salesperson know you mean business. Secondly, think about anytime you have bought a car. The salesperson comes up with a number, you counter, he goes back to talk with his sales manager, right? If the salesperson does not have the authority to make a deal, the manager likely is.

Expert Negotiator Tip: Do your homework beforehand to know what brands you are interested in and comparable competitors. Retailers may have bought into one brand from the manufacturer at a lower price, giving them wiggle room on the price to still make their margins. Having two brands that you are interested in gives you twice as many options.

2. Keep shopping after you have purchased.
Sounds crazy because we all like to cross things off our list. However, many stores offer price changes after the sale. This is particularly important if you shop online, where the price may fluctuate daily. Keep your receipt and keep monitoring prices. From an operational and accounting standpoint, the retailer would rather credit your sale the difference than have you return the product for a refund and buy at a lower price. It is easier for both you and them.

Expert Negotiator Tip: Act quick. When you see the item go on sale, contact the retailer immediately. If you don’t have time right then, print out a screen shot of the product in case it fluctuates back up to your original price.

3. Take advantage of price matching.
Here’s a scenario. You have two things you want to purchase from Amazon to qualify for their free shipping minimum, but you find the second item at a lower cost at Best Buy. Do you pay shipping at Amazon to save on the second item from Best Buy? No. Contact Amazon, let them know you want them to have your business, that you want to purchase from them, but you have seen a better price somewhere else. Odds are they will honor the Best Buy price. In this market, the consumer is in the driver’s seat.

Expert Negotiator Tip: There are several great Web sites out there offering price comparisons. Pricegrabber.com is a great one. Make sure you enter the correct model number and compare away!

One overriding theme in negotiating with retailers is to be nice. People are more likely to help you when they want to work with you. As women, we can be nice yet firm and be a force to reckon with. Good luck!

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