You may think that running an ecommerce website means that you will never have to haggle or negotiate a single price. After all, you deal with people mainly through email or telephone; the lack of face-to-face interaction is part of the industry. Further, most of the prices of your suppliers seem firm; in most cases, they are literally written in black and white on a website or catalog. However, many ecommerce website owners find that they have good use for negotiating skills. You often can get a lower price or more benefits simply by asking for them in the right manner. Haggling skills will also help you deal with customers who are inclined to negotiate.
- Do your research. You should know what a reasonable price range for the item you are buying or selling might be. Look around and see what the highest and lowest price ranges are. Find out what industry services and product benefits are standard. If possible, find out what the product or service you are buying actually costs your supplier. This will keep you from getting swindled, and it also will keep your expectations realistic.
- Know what you want. Maybe you don’t want a lower price so much as upgraded shipping, more benefits, or a warranty. You need to go into a negotiation with a firm idea of what you hope to get by haggling. This is not something to try simply for the experience.
- Aim high—but not too high. Go into the negotiation unapologetic and with high expectations for the transaction. This will help you to be positive and diligent. However, do not make demands that your suppliers simply cannot meet while maintaining their own margins. Your goal is to get the best possible deal without undercutting the person you are dealing with.
- Avoid alienating people. There are good ways to open negotiations without offending anyone. Start with something like, “Is that a firm price or is there wiggle room?” This gives the other party the chance to make a better offer and begin the negotiations. Avoid acting upset or insulted, and terminate the negotiation immediately if the other party appears so.
- Never be the first to name a number. This can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, you want to maintain control of the negotiation, but on the other hand you don’t want to name a number that is above what the other party would have offered. You also don’t want to alienate the other person or make yourself look unreasonable by demanding something that is unreasonable.
- Be willing to settle. You should know the best case scenario going into the negotiation, but you should also know the minimum that you are willing to settle for.
- Focus on your bottom line. This is part of the first step—doing your homework. You need to have a mental idea of your own profit margins and budget throughout the negotiating process. Don’t undercut yourself; ask for a fair price to everyone involved and move on if you aren’t going to get it.