Posted 25 May 2013 - 09:08 AM
This specific topic has been brought up before on the forum, I will state my position again too. It all depends on the type of work and the nature of one's business, but there are plenty of scenarios where offering discounts for volume purchases, and repeat purchases, is sensible and good business.
First of all, I don't think discounts are appropriate for one of a kind art pieces. Where sales are pricey, and seldom, and offering a discount on one sale has a wide ripple effect on the value of your other pieces.
But not all of us are making that type of work. I am making everyday ware, and hoping to sell them in multiples. I price a lot of work to sell them in pairs. i.e. $40/each or 2/$75. It's clearly marked for customers to see the value of buying two. I have thoroughly examined the time/expense factor, and know that I am satisfied with the trade off. It works for me, and I will continue to do it. This does not make me Walmart, not even close! At most of my shows, I am still competing with potters who are offering similar items for half the price.
As for repeat customers, these people are extremely valuable to a pottery business! It really pays to notice who they are, and to show them some gratitude somehow. There are many ways to do this, but I don't think a discount is out of the question. For me, there is no practical difference between this and a small freebie, in terms of setting the value of my time, and managing my customers expectations. Again, I am making everyday ware. For other types of pottery businesses, this might be different. One rule does not fit all.
I am currently compiling a short list of customers who have been unbelievably supportive of my business for years. They have always been willing to pay full price, and treated me and my work with complete respect. When I have my open house at the end of this year, I am going to write a personal note to each of them offering a juicy discount at my open house. I have no fear that they will respect me less, or expect discounts in the future. My plan is to offer this "excellent customer" discount every five years or so.
Yes I think there are wrong ways to do it too, such as a person who is so anxious to make one sale, they start offering bargains to anyone who shows a little interest. I've seen people do this, it's painful to watch. But I also remember how terrifying those early days are, and I don't condemn those who lose their cool. It takes time to learn. Also, I know someone who has a "sale" with substantial discounts on the same day every year, and now unfortunately it seems all his customers have learned to wait for the sale.
If you offer discounts too broadly, and to any customer, then you are devaluaing your work. But if you do it with a lot of thought and selectiveness, it can be very beneficial.