Haggling with Customers – Be Prepared for People Who Want to Bargain

© by Cindy Cherrington; all rights reserved

Haggling - Be Prepared for Jewelry Customers Who Want to Bargain  - Discussion on Jewelry Making Journal

It may come as a surprise, but haggling with customers who want to bargain over your prices is something you will probably have to deal with sometimes when selling your jewelry.

Adjustable silver and glass rings by Cindy Cherrington.

I don’t consider myself quick witted or a fast thinker, so I’m not good with surprises or situations that catch me off guard.

So if you’re anything like me, when you get to shows you need to be prepared for all kinds of questions that can come from your customers.

What is Haggling?

Haggling is the process of negotiating the price of an item with the intent of getting a better deal than the stated price.

Many people assume artists’ prices are flexible, and that bargaining is part of shopping at a show or festival.

If you haven’t considered ahead of time how you’ll respond to customers who want to haggle, you may be offended when someone tries to bargain with you, or find yourself agreeing to a price reduction that you’ll regret later.

Here are some tips for dealing with this scenario.

To Haggle, or Not to Haggle?

There is always so much going on during shows, especially if you do them by yourself, that just greeting the public and striking up conversations and interest in your jewelry is a big enough task.

Think about what you would do if a customer wanted to negotiate over your price on a piece of jewelry. What would you say if they asked for a better deal?

I find that men want to haggle more than women, especially at festivals, asking for a “better price”. If you’re not willing to haggle, they toy with the piece and convince their wife to wait and “look around and come back later.”

Glass heart pendants by Cindy Cherrington.

If you haven’t been asked for a “good deal” at one of your shows yet, you will. It seems at least twice a year I get asked for discounts.

Decide ahead of time what your policy is regarding haggling or reducing your prices, and be prepared with some standard answers when someone asks.

Don’t let a slow sales day be your guide for an answer. You’ll end up kicking yourself after the show.

Alternatives to Reducing Your Prices

What about the shopper who asks, “Would you give me a deal if I buy more than one? So if I buy four would you double the deal?”

Would you come down in price, or would you direct them to a different item that is more reasonably priced – or would you just flat out say “No,” feeling a little insulted?

It’s always good to be prepared for this situation. Instead of lowering your prices when customers want to haggle, you can consider other options that are a better deal for you.

How about a free pair of earrings that match one of those pendants, or a free chain or leather choker which literally cost you only a couple of dollars?

“Free” always sounds better to the customer than $3 or $5 off, anyway.

Don’t be afraid to just say “No” when people ask for a lower price.

Lots of times they really want the item and will buy it at the full price anyway, but they ask for a discount because they lose nothing by trying.

Or if they won’t buy the piece at full price, another customer will come along who is more than willing to pay your stated price.

Try countering their request for a discount with an offer for more merchandise than they inquired about.

If they want a discount for buying two wire wrapped pendants, counter with “Buy two pendants and a sterling choker for $10 off.” The silver choker I didn’t make, so the value is what I paid for it.

As long as the price on the choker is 3 or 4 times what I paid for it, I still make money without devaluing my jewelry, and the customer gets a good deal.

Glass belt buckles by Cindy Cherrington.

Haggling Tip:
Complete the Transaction Immediately

If you do make a deal with your customer, make sure they complete the transaction and take the jewelry immediately.

Don’t let them come back later during the show, after they have shopped around and tried their technique with everyone else. You won’t remember what deal you made with them.

I actually did have a customer do that to me.

A couple wanted to buy several wine stoppers as gifts. This was my wine stoppers’ first show, and I was still struggling to find just the right selling price.

I countered their offer, and then they walked away to “think about it” – something I didn’t expect.

By the end of the show, they came back, ready to purchase at the deal price. Again, I didn’t expect them back so I kept to the offer.

But I will not do that again.

I should have said, “This is a ‘buy now’ offer. Once you leave, it no longer applies.”

But with everything else that’s going on during a show, it’s hard to think quickly in an unexpected situation.

Be Ready for Hagglers

The best way to be prepared for anything your customers might ask is to review possible scenarios before every show, so you’ll be ready with an answer and a solution.

It’s a good idea to know:

* your negotiating policy

* your merchandise and its cost

* the lowest price you would be comfortable with accepting

* what add-on item you’d be willing to throw in instead of giving a discount

* a few practiced responses to hagglers’ questions.

Don’t be caught stammering and stuttering when customers want to haggle, or feel insulted that they’re trying to pay less than the full price for your jewelry.

Smile, take a deep breath, and remember your preparation before each show.

Cindy Cherrington
CC Creations

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  • Kate says:

    I do haggle. I’ve haggled as a consumer and I’m certainly not insulted when people try to haggle with me, as long as it’s in an appropriate setting, like an open-air market or fair.

    I don’t like feeling like a pushover, though, so here’s a few things I’ve tried that seem to work, depending on the situation.

    *I don’t give away free stuff in my negotiations. I get lots of freebie requests. No dice. After a sale’s completed I might surprise the customer with a treat, but not before.

    *I offer to sell my pendants without chains, and reduce the cost accordingly.

    *I don’t mind asking about the person’s budget needs. I’m much more likely to negotiate with someone who wants to be fair but is only carrying X amount of funds than with someone who’s just cheap and has an attitude.

    *I watch how the person is dressed, and how they treat other vendors.

    *I don’t negotiate price until the customer has finished making selections and is ready to purchase, assuming we can reach a deal, and it’s a then-or-never agreement.

    *Instead of a bargain, I offer alternate payment methods. Often the customer doesn’t realize at first that I will accept local checks, or can run a credit card for them, and suddenly their available budget’s bigger than they thought. =)

  • Helen says:

    This is some great advice – thanks for sharing Cindy. So far I never had a situation where customers at fairs tried to haggle, but it’s definitely is something to be aware off and prepared for. Personally I am not super keen on people trying to haggle as I know that someone else is happy to pay the full asking price. Instead of haggling I tend to prepare special offers for the fair.

  • Leslie Schmidt says:

    Some great words of advice. I have cousins who sell high end jewelry at shows, and they rarely give discounts, and even then it’s maybe 10% one time to return/repeat customers (and they let them know this is a one time deal because they are a return customer). They told me if you do start giving discounts, these people will return next time and expect the same discount and so will others around them. At some venues, the customers expect to haggle or bargain, some people just try it to see if they can get away with it. I agree, tell them it’s now and not later. Other friends had someone say, well you won’t sell it if you don’t sell it to me now at a discounted price. They just told the man to come back later and see. Choleric, aggressive, rude customer trying to bulldoze his way into a bargain.

    I love having prepared answers as yes, we all will get these requests. I, too, am not quick to respond but if I have an answer ready in my head, I can say it much better. So think about this ahead, know how you will want to respond, make it a positive response in some way that will benefit you and please the customer. I’ve had a negative response to someone in my head and later discovered a friendship with that person and was glad I held my tongue. Just let a negative comment roll away and don’t dwell on it or the person. Being a sanguine personality, I always turn it into a story I can tell later and we all laugh about the situation.

  • Susan says:

    I just had this happen this weekend. I already offer a little discount on multiple purchases, and give away something every weekend to the group runners that start our market. But this weekend I had a lovely lady who had previously bought my 2/fer earrings and after seeing what everyone else had to offer at our packed market, came back to settle on a couple of other items she had her eye on. She chose a bracelet and a ring, asked for a “deal”, and I gave her a “rounded down” price, which equated to $4 off the purchase. No biggie to me but made her happy. Then she spotted another necklace that I had put up front and center because I knew it would get a lot of attention. She haggled and haggled and I stood my ground on that one. I told her that I already had two other folks that had contacted me on Facebook and wanted it, so if I sold it I had to make two more in a hurry. It was the truth and if she visited my page she would see the posts. I guess she figured if two other people wanted it it must be worth the money, LOL, and said wrap it up.

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