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Loss Leader Pricing: A Strategy to Drive In-Store Traffic

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    Price battles and market oversupply are commonly used now to drive customers to buy products or services. It’s because the e-commerce landscape is highly competitive, and every online retailer wants to establish a competitive edge. They use various pricing strategies to get customers’ attention and grow their business. The loss leader pricing method is also used to entice the customer into making a purchase. If this strategy is implemented correctly, it can bring them unbelievable outcomes. 

    So, what is loss leader pricing, and how can you effectively use it in your ecommerce business? Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of this technique and when to employ it. 

    What Is the Loss Leader Pricing Strategy?

    Loss leader pricing is a planned approach that businesses use to attract customers and get a competitive advantage. It involves selling a product or service at a much cheaper price, often even below the production cost. The goal is to attract customers to look into the company’s full range of services or to make further purchases in addition to the discount. This strategy is critical in highly competitive industries where brand loyalty is limited or customers have a variety of options and are budget-conscious.

    The main objective of using loss leader pricing is to entice customers to choose your company over its rivals, leading to a rise in market share and revenue. Offering a discount on a product can help create a positive impression, foster customer connections, and increase potential future sales. Though the immediate financial benefit from the discounted item may be minimal or even negative, the potential for establishing long-term customer loyalty and improving profitability makes employing loss-leader pricing a decision for numerous businesses.

    What Are the Advantages of Loss Leader Pricing?

    Loss leader pricing provides various benefits to retailers and businesses. Here are some advantages:

    • Attracting Customers: Loss leader pricing is an effective way to attract customers. Businesses can attract price-sensitive consumers who are looking for bargains and deals by selling a product at a considerably reduced price. It promotes foot traffic in physical stores and website visits for online companies.
    • Rise in Sales: When a loss leader product draws customers, they are more likely to explore and purchase additional things. At the same time, the loss leader may have a low-profit margin or even a loss. However, additional sales generated by complementary or higher-priced items can cover it. It can result in higher total sales volume and revenue.
    • Gain and Keep Customers: Loss leader pricing is effective for getting customer attention. Businesses that provide a low price can convert new customers who are unwilling to try the product at full price. It can also increase customer loyalty because shoppers appreciate the value they get from the discounted deal.
    • Competitive Advantage: Using loss leader pricing can help organizations get a competitive advantage in the market. By offering a product at a lower price than competitors, a business can lure customers away from competing brands and increase its market share. It can help present the company as a cost-effective option and foster a positive image in the minds of customers.
    • Inventory Management: Loss leader pricing can help with inventory management, particularly for products with a limited life or consumable items. Businesses that offer these things at a discount can ensure a faster turnover, lowering the risk of waste or losses due to spoiling or obsolescence.
    • Advertising and Trial: Loss leader pricing enables customers to test a new or unfamiliar product at a lower cost. It can boost brand awareness and encourage customers to try the goods, potentially leading to further sales at the regular price.

    What Are the Disadvantages of Loss Leader Pricing?

    While loss leader pricing might be beneficial, it also has some drawbacks that companies should consider. Here are a few disadvantages of using loss leader pricing:

    • Reduce Profit Margins: The biggest disadvantage of loss leader pricing is the instant reduction in profit margins. Selling a product at a considerably reduced price or even at a loss suggests that the company may make minimal profit from that particular item. Additional sales of other products are expected to compensate for the loss, which is not always assured.
    • Perceived Value and Price Sensitivity: When customers get used to purchasing a product at a significantly reduced price, they might think the usual price to be too high. This might cause price sensitivity among customers, making it difficult to resell the same product at its original price once the loss leader pricing technique is removed. Customers might expect similar reductions or promotions on other products, influencing the entire pricing strategy.
    • Potential Profit Dependency: Relying too much on loss leader pricing might lead to a dependence on ongoing promotions and discounts to generate sales. Businesses that are unable to earn adequate money from regular-priced products may struggle to maintain profitability in the long run.
    • Competitive Pressure: Loss leader pricing can increase price competitiveness between competitors. If numerous enterprises in the same industry use the same pricing approach, it can result in a race to the bottom, eroding profit margins for everyone concerned. This might make it difficult for firms to distinguish themselves based on criteria other than price.
    • Targeted Customer Base: Loss leader pricing may attract customers who are more motivated by low prices than by brand loyalty or product quality. These customers may be less likely to make repeat purchases at regular prices, resulting in a volatile customer base that is difficult to retain.
    • Inventory & Supply Chain Management: Using loss leader pricing necessitates careful inventory management to maintain enough supply of discounted goods to meet demand. It also entails addressing the potential impact on the supply chain, such as negotiating lower costs with suppliers in order to retain profitability.

    When Can a Business Use Loss Leader Pricing Strategy?

    Loss-leader pricing is not universal. Certain conditions make it work best:

    • Market entry: Loss-leaders might help you stand out in a competitive market. Imagine creating a premium skincare e-commerce business in a highly competitive market that is already established. Provide a loss-leader deal on a popular skincare item to gain traction. This brings potential clients to your website and introduces them to your premium offerings.
    • Seasonal promotions: Loss-leaders can increase site traffic and product sales during peak shopping seasons like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Imagine running an online clothes company over the holidays. You can use loss-leader pricing on holiday-themed sweaters or socks to increase traffic and sales. While you may not make much profit on these things, they can attract shoppers who then buy non-discounted items from your store.
    • Clear stock: Loss-leaders can help you sell extra stock fast. To clear out out-of-style electronic gadgets fast and make place for new products, you could price them as a loss-leader. Even expiring groceries can be sold swiftly using the loss-leader technique.
    • Gain customers: Loss-leader pricing can attract new customers if your goal is that. When introducing a subscription-based e-learning platform, you want new students. Offering a free or highly discounted initial course as a loss leader can attract students. After trying your courses, consumers may subscribe to your premium content.


    Implementing loss leader pricing strategically can make a difference for your store. It’s not about sacrificing profits; it’s about fostering customer relationships and achieving growth. By selecting the products, employing pricing tactics and tools, and evaluating outcomes, you can surpass challenges and stand out from competitors. Embracing loss leader pricing as a strategy for your ecommerce venture can lead to expansion in the evolving digital marketplace. Remember that you can do this effortlessly if you have access to pricing intelligence tools that keep you ahead of the competition.



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