Two January 2009 shopping trips, two very different scenes.
Trip #1 to a local mall on a Saturday afternoon. Few shoppers. Even fewer buyers -- it was startling how few people were carrying shopping bags with purchases.
Trip #2 to a local Walmart on a Saturday afternoon. Hard to find an empty parking spot (picture just below). The store was packed with shoppers. 35 of 38 cash registers were open and all had lines.
Fact: In the current economic climate, shoppers are attracted to low prices.
Fact: Not all stores can compete price-wise with the Walmarts of the world.
Beyond low prices, what are businesses doing to increase customer purchases?
Note: While not new tactics, the following are examples of methods some firms are employing in attempt to keep customers buying.
- Bundle current products together for a "deal". Recently, Jack In The Box announced the new "Jumbo Deal" (picture below) that combined a sandwich, tacos and fries for $2.99. Even if the price covers only costs, the fast food restaurant can profit from the likely sale of a highly profitable soft drink.
- Reduce purchase risk by offering attractive warranties and guarantees. Already tightening their purse strings and wallets, even willing consumers are looking for methods to minimize risks of unwise spending on products. Businesses can increase consumer confidence in purchases by offering strong (as perceived by the buyers) product warranties and guarantees (money back if not satisfied, you will not find at a lower price, etc.).
- Allow consumers to try the product before purchasing. More businesses are finding ways to allow customers to "test drive" their products. Starbucks is offering free trials of two new Tazo tea drinks (with a coupon from a USA Today advertising insert -- picture below). This allows customers to be more sure that they like the product before purchase thereby increasing their buying confidence to overcome risks of spending money that is in short supply.