Ask the Experts: Should I share our pricing on our website?

By Mark Stiving June 19, 2014

Should you publish your prices or not? It's an interesting question, and  it’s never easy; it’s a tradeoff.

Have you ever searched for the price of a product you thought might be a good fit for you? And then just quit searching after a few minutes of not finding it? That leads you to a choice. You can either contact the company (or supply info to have them contact you) or keep searching for another alternative. Most of the time, I keep searching. I assume the reason they aren’t showing the price is that it’s higher than I would expect.

Is this what you want for your products? When you don’t publish prices (or at least have a distribution channel that publishes prices), many buyers simply keep searching and go to your competition. They don’t want to talk to salespeople, or even give up their contact information, when just shopping. Here is a simple rule: The easier you are to do business with, the more business you will do. Hiding prices makes it harder for your customers to do business with you.

However, there are some circumstances where not publishing prices is appropriate. You may have conflicting distribution channels, where different channels sell at different prices. You absolutely cannot put a lower price on your website than the highest channel price. You do not want to compete with your channel.

Companies don't share their pricing for one of two reasons:

  1. They are able to sell at variable prices, but publishing the price precludes them from higher prices.
  2. The “high price” on the website scares off buyers before they get to talk to them.

In the first situation, one solution would be to raise the list price to the highest anyone pays—then offer discounts from there. That list price is what you publish on our website.

In the second, you have to trade off the loss of engagement because the price isn’t published with the loss of engagement because the price is published. My gut tells me that if you are selling to individual buyers and users, then you show the price. If you only sell very large deals where a salesperson is expected to be involved, then you may be okay not publishing the price.

There really isn't a set answer on whether you should publish your prices or not, but taking into account your business model and what you want to accomplish can help you set out in the right direction.

Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving is an instructor at Pragmatic Marketing with more than 20 years of experience in business startup, development, management, turnaround and sales and design engineering. He has helped companies create and implement new pricing strategies to capture more from the value they create, and has consulted with Cisco, Procter & Gamble, Grimes Aerospace, Rogers Corporation and many small businesses and entrepreneurial ventures. He has led pricing initiatives as director of pricing at Maxim Integrated and as a member of technical staff at National Semiconductor. Mark also has served as president of both Home Director Inc. and Destiny Networks Inc. and as an assistant professor of marketing at The Ohio State University. Mark also is the author of “Impact Pricing: Your Blueprint to Driving Profits” (Entrepreneur Press, 2011). He can be reached at mstiving@pragmaticmarketing.com.

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