First: I’ve had some great comments on this series of posts. I encourage you to go back and read them (links: Part 2, Part 3).
I figured before we make any more conclusions, we should look at some examples of how pricing is being handled by some companies.
The Case of the Network Analyzer
Suppose you wanted a cool new network analyzer, who wouldn’t? Agilent would seem to be a safe brand I like, so here is what I found:
1. No price here…
At Agilent’s website, their new E5071C model is highlighted, driving me to this page which does NOT have pricing. It does have a lead time and links titled “how to buy” and “request a quote”. A little further down it offers “Get a formal question with full pricing and options: Get a Quick Quote in 2 min.” linking to the same quote form.
2. I found the price!
Not content to fill out a form, I next find myself at TestEquity.com, which also highlights this latest model, too. Their page does have “TestEquity Price” for what looks like every variation of the model. Below the price is an “add to quote” button. Surprisingly, there are no caveats about the price shown. (It might be noted that my behavior in looking for the fine-print that goes with the pricing may reflect the same diligence that other shoppers may have.)
3. GSA pricing? Cool!
Well, now that I have a price, who else might have a better deal? I search for this new model and land here at Testmart.com which prominently displays a link titled “Get GSA Price”. (GSA is the US government price.) I click on the link, then ‘yes’ to the question of whether I am qualified for this price, whether I am or not, and voila, I now have the price for the rack-bracket set for the E5071C. Pricing…great, bracket…not so great.
The pricing is shown along with three sentences defining the GSA terms (and a GSA logo), plus enough other information to nearly be considered a firm quote. The pricing does show the MSRP, which is more than the manufacturer will display. A little more digging and I find Testmart does have prices for the network analyzers prominently displayed when you do a search.
While Agilent is willing to address pricing, it doesn’t actually publish their prices, even though major online resellers do. It is interesting to find the GSA prices so publicly displayed, as it acts as a signal to the shoppers of how much discount they could ask for. And I was surprised that TestEquity’s website didn’t have any qualifiers for their listed price. That may be a subtle hint (along with the quote button) that getting a written quote would be advisable.
At least for this type of product, handled by distributors, pricing on the web is not an issue. Next, hopefully I can find time to do research on a B2B product that doesn’t have online pricing.