To say Zimbabweans have responded well to the pressures of the pandemic would be an understatement. The adoption of online stores, sellers peddling their wares on social media and WhatsApp are fantastic examples of how adaptable Zimbos are. On top of that, we have seen a number of new e-commerce marketplaces that have sprung up with a litany of services for both sellers and buyers. However as good as this is, there has been one glaring problem that I have encountered while surfing the interwebs looking for deals. There is a collection of sellers who, for whatever reason, refuse to display prices. The compromise they offer is the infamous “inbox for details” or simply have their contact information listed on a page or group.
Now, I understand why sellers might not want to display prices. Zimbabwe is not a conventional operating environment by any stretch of the imagination. One of the key problems has been the Oprah Winfrey style Statutory Instruments we have seen being dolled out. I am sure that SI 127 of 2021 is still fresh in the memory and its cryptic withdrawal from the general market and only applying to entities that trade on the forex auction further exacerbates the nature of operators when it comes to the issue of price.
No one wants to scramble and change a website overnight or alter social media posts to make sure that they comply with the prevailing law. At this point, I can imagine that there are those who are going to protest and you are most welcome to but before you begin hear me out.
Who wants their time wasted?
The most common comment I have seen on social media advertisements for a service or product with no price is unsurprisingly, “How much?“. Before I go on I have to say I am looking at this from the customer’s perspective and as a prospective patron, I want to know as much information about the product at a glance. There are so many other stores competing for my attention and if you don’t have your price listed, I and I’m sure others, will move on.
It doesn’t matter how good the deal you are offering is, because the nature of social media is for content to be as ephemeral or quick to consume as possible. If your potential customers can’t make a decision or use the information you have provided to make a decision then it does no one any good. And there is no piece of information more critical than the price in influencing a purchase decision.
Even if someone is broke and they desire that product or service, they will save the post or contact detail for a time when they will be flush to finally make a move.
Why force your customers to chase you down?
If I was selling anything, I would make it as easy as possible for anyone to be able to access whatever it is they need to buy or move on. If you are asking your customers to DM you for the price or further details and that proves to be a complete waste of their time, what are the chances that any individual will return?
You aren’t the only one selling that thing in the city or country. And even the obscure or niche things are becoming easier to find.
Do you want to haggle prices with all your customers?
There is an assumption I make whenever I see someone who doesn’t list their price be it in a Facebook Group/Marketplace or on WhatsApp is that “the price is negotiable”. Setting your price upfront to me and many others I have spoken to reflects that the store or seller is unlikely to budge. If there is some wiggle room then that’s a bonus but those instances are very rare.
The point I am trying to make is that you might be cluttering your communication channels with people who are testing the waters. They are most probably looking to lowball you.
I don’t know about you, but I would rather let the price be the barrier to entry and deal with customers who are serious about making a purchase or are simply asking to know more about the product’s specifications.
You are decreasing sharability
Sharing ads for goods and services is a time-honoured tradition everywhere but Zimbabwe is a peculiar case. What I mean by this is that most people live within a WhatsApp bundle and if you don’t offer enough information chances are very few people will want to share that post.
Data may be expensive but time is even more precious and contemplating having to pry information out of a seller is an unappetising prospect. Worse still is the rate of response. If you are the sole operator of a business, you will be keeping money waiting as you wade through people who are asking you about things they should already know from your post or advertisement.
Moreover, in Zimbabwe, things go viral on WhatsApp and you are more likely going to attract attention if your advertisement/post, be it text or an image, includes price(s).