Thursday, December 5, 2013

Negotiate Your Way To Retail Bargains

It’s a funny thing, but we Americans really don’t like to bargain when we go out shopping.
Sure, we like to get the best deals on Black Friday, but we feel uncomfortable asking for a better price at any other time of the year. This is so different to other cultures – for example, you are expected to haggle if you are in a souk in Morocco. Even stranger, we only seem to have this problem when it comes to our personal lives. In business, we always negotiate, and negotiation is part of the tools of the trade for lawyers such as Dr. Shahram Shirkhani. In this article, we explore what we can learn from the world of law and business and how to apply it in our personal lives.

If you manage to build up the courage to negotiate, you would be surprised just how much you can save. It’s nothing to be ashamed of – after all, it’s your money and no retailer has the right to take it off you. As long as you follow some proven negotiation techniques, you can expect to take a considerable amount off the list price of everything from basic clothing to luxury goods.
The first thing to understand is that retailers usually have a huge markup on the goods that they sell – in fact, they generally double the amount that they paid. If they are faced with the choice of not making a sale, or taking 20% off and still making a good profit, they more often than not drop the price when you ask. In other words, the price on the ticket is completely arbitrary – otherwise, how could they give the bargains they do during sales and still stay in business?

One of the keys to successful negotiation is to pick your time. For instance, if you try to talk to a salesperson on a Saturday afternoon when there are dozens of customers in the store, you probably aren’t going to get much traction – they would rather spend the time with customers who are willing to fork over the full price. However, pick a quiet time – particularly at the end of the month when the retailer is trying to clear out existing stock to make room for new inventory – and it is often a very different story. Even if the salesperson refuses to reduce the price, if you ask nicely to see the manager the chances are that you will get what you want.
When you do try to negotiate, make it a golden rule to always be polite and friendly. Don’t threaten to go somewhere else, or make bad comments about what you are trying to buy. This will just get their backs up and they will say no on principle. Instead, tell them that you are really interested in buying the item, but you hadn’t intended to pay so much. Even look a little sad that you can’t afford it – you would be surprised what a little sympathy can accomplish. Don’t be embarrassed when you do this – after all, you are probably reluctant to pay the full price anyway, and in any case you have nothing to lose.

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