Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Pricing 101: Taking a Page from Pawn Stars

By Kirsten Snyder - Director, Integrated Insight

If you haven’t checked out the show Pawn Stars on the History channel, then you are really missing out.  The show follows about 3 or 4 items that people bring into the Gold and Silver Pawn shop in Las Vegas.  The items range from old military weapons to pop culture collectibles.  Think of it as Antique Roadshow, only at a pawn shop.  Besides the history you learn from the experts on the show, it teaches important lessons in pricing and maximizing profit.

Understand the price customers are willing to pay.
The pawn shop understands that they need to buy an item at the right price in order to be able to mark it up to make a profit.  In order to buy at the right price, understanding how much an end customer is willing to pay is critical.  Not knowing the price the market will bear runs the risk of overpaying and being forced to sell at a loss.  It can also lead to a slower than expected sales pace.

Understand the size of the market interested in the item.
Another important factor to consider when buying a product is how quickly the item will sell, otherwise known as carrying costs.  The pawn shop can estimate this by understanding how many people are interested in, or able to afford a certain item.  For example, if they buy a first edition Mark Twain Novel worth $10,000, management first has to project how many Mark Twain collectors are in the market and willing to spend $10,000.  Carrying costs are important to consider given money tied up in inventory isn’t available for purchase of new items.

The best channel may not be your own.
The pawn shop may buy an item that’s too good to pass up, but if they need a specific audience to sell to, then the pawn shop may not be the best place for the sale to take place.  Some items may sell quickest and fetch the highest price through a different channel.  For example, the pawn shop purchased a car driven by Steve McQueen in his last movie, The Hunter.  Because this item has a very specific audience, they considered how much profit could be made if they sold it through an auction, in spite of the auction fees.  The pawn shop knew they would have the best audience willing to pay the most money through this channel, as opposed to their own store.

The moral of the story, “Maximize profits by understanding your consumer.  Offer the right product, to the right customer, through the right channel, at the right time and price”.

No comments :

Post a Comment