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Make Your Customers Happy
... and sell some stock at the same time

Big secret (not)...

We are living in difficult economic times. Even so....

   Retailers want to move stock, but not give it away.
   Customers want to buy things, at bargain prices.

My idea... the "Countdown Sale"...

I thought the following might work for everyone. Tell me what you think?

The basic idea is this: The retailer puts a tag on an item that needs to be sold. The tag says....

  Until 11am, the price for this is $100
  After 11, you can have it for $90
  After noon, you can have it for $80
  After 1pm, you can have it for $70
  After 2pm, you can have it for $60
  After 3pm, you can have it for $40
  After 4pm, you can have it for $20
  After 4:30... the price goes back to $100

That's the basic idea! The rest of this is "frills", taking care of the practicalities of Life As We Know It. One such practicality has already been taken care of. If the shop concerned is lucky enough to be able to close at 5pm, no one wants to be dealing with special cases in the closing minutes of the day, do they?

Many the ideas here, by the way, are inspired by the way various online selling schemes work.

There's always someone out there waiting to try to pull a scam.

The retailer should at least do the following to protect him/ herself. It should also boost interest in the sale, and make it more effective for everyone...

Several days before releasing any goods into Countdown Sales, a list should be posted near the register. It would say something like the following. I've used tools in a hardware store for the example. Of course it would be necessary to specify exactly which, say, hammer, was going on "Countdown Sale". It would, of course, be possible to offer several hammers of a given make and model, although it would be wise to single out each individual, say, hammer as the subject of a specific set of terms. It would make things "work" better, if, for instance, hammer A's Countdown sale started at 8am, Hammer B's at 8:15, Hammer C's at 8:30... each dropping in price by the same amount, every hour after the start of its period in its Countdown Sale.

On (date), the following goods will go on countdown sale...

Item        Start time  Start price  Drop per hour End time
Hammer        8:00        $10            $1          12:30
Power Saw     8:00        $80            $5           2:30
Workbench    10:00        $60           $10           1:30

Besides the list on the poster by the register, there would be tags on each item. (The list by the register would serve several purposes:

Getting clever...

If initial trials with a few simple items were satisfactory, a retailer might consider the following "twists"...

A countdown sale could run over two (or more) days, i.e., the schedule might be...

  Until 2pm, May 1st, the price for this is $100
  After 3pm, May 1st, you can have it for $90
  After 4pm, May 1st, you can have it for $80
  After 8am, May 2nd, 1pm, you can have it for $70
  After 10am, May 2nd, you can have it for $60
  After 11am, May 2nd, you can have it for $40
  After noon, May 2nd, you can have it for $20
  After 1pm, May 2nd... the price goes back to $100

By using some "two day" Countdown Sales, the retailer could have several items reaching the end of their Countdown Sale in any hour of any day. Of course, it would be possible to arrange things so that the most best prices were available at times the retailer knows that extra traffic will be most useful.

"Pre-sales": Not "necessary" to the scheme, and there are some hassles to consider... but the following also opens up new help to convince the customer to buy, and it reduces the chance of one problem which might arise.

Give customers a way to "pre-buy" at their Most I Will Pay price.

One way to work this would be as follows:

Allow customers to give you cash to put in an envelope.

On the envelope would go the customer's name and telephone number, the item they are "bidding" on, and the price they will pay.

Should the item be unsold at a higher price, the customer gets a phone call, is told to come and collect the sale.

Should the item sell at a higher price, the customer gets a phone call, is told to come and collect their cash.

Safeguards need to be considered to thwart people making fraudulent claims about monies deposited.

Remember the sign by the register, listing current Countdown Sales? If a customer deposits cash for, say, for the hammer, at $7, a note to the effect that it is "sold" if it lasts until 11am. Because of that note: three good things happen...

Enough to be going on with?

I hope the ideas above are interesting. As I said, your thoughts on potential problems or improvements would be very welcome. (My contact details below.)

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