Only the TRUTH about ECommerce
Should You Use Strike-Through Pricing on Your Website?
"The amateur salesman sells products; the professional sells solutions." - Jeffrey Gitomer
I see a lot of websites. As a 30+-year veteran of this business, I offer people free advice, so of course I get a lot of calls. Much of the time it’s someone who’s had a website up for some time and isn’t making any sales.
There are lots of reasons for this; far too many to begin to list here. But one thing I do see all the time is “strike-through” pricing. It looks like this…
…and you should absolutely never do this on your site.
To people who don’t understand Retail Psychology (and that’s a lot of people), strike-through pricing seems like a powerful tool. It creates a sense of urgency, implying that the sale price is a limited time offer that customers shouldn't miss.
It also provides a visual representation of savings, which can be very persuasive when used properly.
However, it’s almost always used carelessly, and that’s the problem. Many website templates (never use a website template!) show every single price this way.
Keep this in mind: You should never pull your visitors’ eyes to your prices.
Sales isn’t about price. People already want to buy what you’re selling, or they wouldn’t be on your site in the first place.
Selling a product, whether in the physical world or online, is about knowing who your customer is. Every single product niche out there has a very specific consumer demographic who buys it the most.
Yes, I said niche. You cannot sell multiple different types of products on a single website. If you try that, Google won’t ever rank you in the search engines, and you need them to.
And that, by the way, is another very common reason for website failure, but I already talk about that in other blog posts and in my Free Video Series. So back to the subject at hand.
When you understand your consumer demographic, you create a website that shows those people exactly what they need to see, when they need to see it. Your page layout, your images, your text-to-graphic ratio, your description phraseology and more are what sells your products. Price becomes a distant memory as they race to your shopping cart.
So, leaving aside all of those other things that need to be learned when building an online business, let’s continue with strike-through pricing and talk about the issues associated with it.
Imagine you visit an ECommerce website and every product you see shows a strike-through price next to a lower sale price. This endless conga-line of slashed prices makes visitors skeptical. It looks like a cheap, transparent sales gimmick to shoppers, and it is. This hurts the credibility of your site, and you cannot afford that for even one second. Shoppers aren’t stupid, and they don’t like to feel manipulated.
Overuse of strike-through pricing leads to a perceived devaluation of your products. Customers will see that as a sign that your products are overpriced to begin with, and that the sale price is the actual value. This perception diminishes the perceived quality of your products and reduces their desirability…and their desire to shop with you at all.
Let’s be honest – it looks horrible
From a design perspective, a website filled with strike-through prices looks cluttered and confusing. It’s one of the many elements of poor design that makes the visitor feel like they’re looking at your site through a kaleidoscope. That visual turn-off is an instant exit for that visitor, and no sale for you.
Proper website design begins with balance, symmetry, and clarity. I have never, ever met a “template” that understood that.
The only way to use strike-through pricing is to do it very sparingly, and only authentically.
If you reserve it ONLY for genuine discounts, your visitors will notice that, and it could have a positive effect for you. But ONLY for genuine discounts.
That means you actually have a product that your wholesaler is doing a clearance or a special on. That doesn’t happen often, so this caveat is not a “get out of screwing-up-jail free” card!
If you’re using a template (please don’t!) and you see that kind of thing all over it, you need to remove it immediately.
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