With the Internet and Smartphone apps, retailers are changing their habits

PricesStein Mart Incorporated

When it comes to shopping, you’re no dummy. 

“I think [shoppers are] more intelligent and well prepared than ever,” said John Hall of The Hall Agency. 

Thanks to the Internet and Smartphone apps, it’s easy to find the real cost of a product.  If you feel a price is too high, you’ll probably shop someplace else. 

“It’s probably dangerous from the retailer’s standpoint,” said Hall. 

And that means, it’s time for change.  JCPenney comes to mind – they’ve made a lot of changes recently. 

“Our customers are smart.  They know the price they’re willing to pay for something,” said JCPenney Store Manager Nic Hohne.

The Plano based company has a new CEO from Apple and a new pricing structure they’ve dubbed “Fair and Square.”  No more coupons and no more door-buster sales.     

“We don’t want them to have to rely on a special coupon to get the price they’re willing to pay,” said Hohne. 

It’s a gutsy move, according to a local advertising expert. 

“My first inclination is no, that it won’t work,” said Hall. 

He adds it’ll be a challenge to re-brand a retailer that’s been around for 110 years. 

As for customer reaction, it’s been mixed. 

“I have looked in the stores, and I can’t find any of the cute stuff,” said Amy Stouffer. 

Stouffer would look at the Sunday ad, then come to the store, only to find the stuff she wanted sold out.  She was told demand for the new items has been high, so they move quickly.

Others like the ‘What-You-See-Is-What-You-Pay’ mentality. 

“I like this much better.  It’s nice to just have a low price,” said Kirsten Farmer.

Like JCPenney, Stein Mart is also lowering prices and phasing out coupons.  When stores make these changes, it’s bound to pique curiosity.  That causes shoppers to go in and check out the changes first hand.  

But as we all know, it takes awhile to adjust to change.

“We have some work to do, trying to get our customers to understand the new pricing,” said Hohne. 

It’ll be awhile before we find out if the new pricing strategies will work.  If we grasp JCPenney and Stein Mart’s changes, they’ll be the trendsetters. 

“In the long run, who knows, this may be the wave of things to come,” said Hall. 

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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