I recently realized that I do not have a toaster. If I plan to eat toast anytime soon, I need to get one, so this past weekend I went on the quest to purchase a toaster. Doing what I always do, I started my toaster research online.

My toaster requirements were simple. I needed a toaster that:

  • Effectively made toast.
  • Had two slots and a dial by which to control the toastiness of said toast.
  • Did not cost an arm and a leg.
  • Would hold up to regular use for a reasonable amount of time.
  • Did not appear likely to burn down my apartment building with normal use.

With these specifications in mind, I hit the World Wide Web in search of my perfect toaster match. What I discovered along the way simply stunned me as an ecommerce professional and frustrated me as a consumer. There are a number of sites out there selling toasters as well as other goods that do not list the pricing for all of the items they sell online. This simply blows my mind. Here’s my reasoning:

As a consumer, I head to the Internet for information about the products I wish to buy. Most often, this includes price. I suspect that I am not alone in searching for this information. Why then, do ecommerce sites omit this important little morsel of information?

Here’s a picture of one of the sites selling toasters but without listing the price:

B2B E Commerce and Product Pricing Issues Toaster

Now, I realize that this particular model is only sold in the store—but that shouldn’t preclude listing the in-store sale price. Doesn’t this retailer want to drive cross-channel sales as well? Apparently not. Or perhaps they assume that the consumer will simply drop what they are doing and head to the local retail location to check it out. Let me just say that I didn’t venture anywhere near that retailer this weekend and subsequently bought a toaster from their competition.

In an unrelated search, I also happen to be in the market for a set of fluid acrylic paints for a mixed media art class that I am taking. A search of one of the big art supply store sites with locations near my home revealed that they offer the product I want, but refused to share the product’s sale price! See the image below.

B2B E Commerce and Product Pricing Issues Acrylic Paint

In today’s Web-driven age, why show that the product is available if you aren’t going to at least tell the shopper what it costs? It seems counter-intuitive to me to refuse to show pricing, especially on a consumer-based site.

But what does my search for a toaster and a set of fluid acrylics have to do with your B2B ecommerce site?

B2B ecommerce sites are not immune from frustrating potential customers with missing product information. More and more B2B buyers are heading to the Internet to research new suppliers and to search for better pricing on the products they know they need. Not having your customer catalog visible to potential customers is the first B2B infraction—they have no idea if you offer the product they are looking for—and not listing a manufacturer’s list price is the second. A product catalog without a list price makes a potential customer guess about your pricing. Is it more than the manufacturer charges? (Yes, this sort of pricing still exists, although I am not sure how.) It is better pricing than your competitor offers—and if so, how much better? Divulging your list price as a starting place and accompanying that price with a note that indicates that better pricing is available for preferred customers or those companies that reach a certain volume level is a strategy that is likely to engage more of the Web’s fickle visitors.

B2B ecommerce must begin thinking of how today’s new business customer wants to engage in business and provide a website that meets those needs. Failing to do so will leave potential customers looking for the next online option—much like I did with my toaster.

To learn more about how to leverage the power of your B2B ecommerce site, download the white paper, B2B Ecommerce Success – Seven Questions to Consider When Beginning an Ecommerce Initiative.