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Why do we not hide our wholesale jewellery prices?

Most wholesale websites hide their prices from casual visitors. Many of them hide their entire catalogues — only allowing access to pre-approved customers who must first ask permission. They do this out of some mistaken idea that ordinary, everyday consumers will somehow stumble across their website, locate a necklace or bracelet that they bought two weeks ago at their local jewellery shop for £19.99, and realise that the wholesale price was only £5.

This doesn’t happen.

Sure, when you publish a website, it’s out there for all to see. Anyone who knows the website address can come and browse your stock, regardless of who they are or what their intentions might be. Without a firewall of some kind, no distinction is made between retailers looking to buy stock to sell in their jewellery shop, and casual shoppers looking for a necklace or bracelet.

It doesn’t matter. Consumers will not find and will not browse a wholesale website.

How are they going to find you? If they Google necklace, bracelet or jewellery, all they will find are retail websites. Without the extra keywords of wholesale or trade, they would have to browse to page 124 before hitting an actual wholesale website — that’s how competitive the retail online jewellery market is. Consumers do not add these extra keywords to casual searches.

Nobody is going to browse to page 124 of Google in search of the wholesale price of a necklace they bought in Jane’s Jewels a couple of weeks back. In the unlikely event that somebody does, how will they know they have found the correct wholesaler? Will they browse an entire wholesale catalogue on the off-chance that their necklace might be there? Will they even recognise that necklace if they find it? Wholesale jewellery images are not always that clear or impressive.

The idea that if you publish something on the Internet, it will be found be everyone is a fallacy. If this were true, every Internet business would succeed, because all of their potential customers would immediately find them and place orders. This doesn’t happen. The biggest problem new online business face is obscurity. Most Internet businesses fail, and they fail because their potential customers never know they exist.

Many, if not most, of our competitors hide their prices and catalogues behind a permission-wall. They insist that anyone who wants the privilege of giving them money first apply for an account. They want to vet each and every Jane’s Jewels before allowing them to give them money.

This is crazy, and is born out of a lack of understanding of how the Internet works, and of how people search for things online.

There is only one case where displaying prices to everyone might be problematic — if you are selling branded goods. In this case, a savvy consumer could easily browse for the brand name of the item they purchased along with a phrase such as “wholesale price”, and find your website on the first page of results. This never happens for non-branded items such as the jewellery we sell, but it might happen for something like Pandora or Ikita jewellery. In this case, a permission-wall hiding prices makes sense.

For businesses like ours there is nothing to be gained from hiding prices or catalogues. More importantly, there is nothing for retail customers to worry about regarding our openness. Your customers are not going to find our website, and they are not going to see our prices. Not unless you tell them who your supplier is.

06 Jan 2014

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