Get ready to haggle in the Grand Bazaar

Get ready to haggle in the Grand Bazaar

As mentioned in our previous posts on Istanbul, the Grand Bazaar is a must-see place in the city. During your free time at the EAIE conference you should definitely have a stroll along some of the 61 streets of the oldest and largest ‘shopping centre’ in the world and check the amazing variety of products available (traditional food and spices, bags, clothes, carpets, jewelry, antiques, crafts, artwork, etc) in the more than 3000 shops! But you cannot enjoy the Grand Bazaar to the full without knowing how to haggle.

This will not only be good for your pockets but will also help you soak up the authentic atmosphere as bargaining is a tradition in Turkey. Here are some tips that might come in handy when you get there:

1. Get a sense of the market

If you are an impulsive shopper, make sure you get rid of the habit while at the Grand Bazaar. In order to get a good price, you need to take the time to check more shops, examine the products and compare the prices. Try to haggle in several shops for a similar product to increase your chances of getting as low a price as possible.

2. Set a price for yourself and show the money

Set a limit for yourself and think of the maximum price you want to pay for the product of your interest. Put that amount separately and ultimately pull the money out and tell the shopkeeper: “This is all the money I have, will you take it?”. You can even put it in their hands; they will most likely find it difficult to say no.

3. Start low

After browsing the shops, you should know that prices might still be inflated by up to 50%. So when you start haggling, make sure you offer half or even one third of the price. Even if you don’t expect to agree on that price and you’re willing to pay more, you need to leave a lot of room for negotiation. You can also mention that you’ve seen cheaper products down the street but don’t come up with an unreasonable price as shopkeepers have done their research too. During the process the shopkeepers might laugh or look surprised; don’t worry, it’s all part of the ritual. Be ready to spend quite some time bargaining.

4. Be aware of the use of calculators

Most of the shopkeepers use calculators when coming up with a (discounted) price. The technique gives more credibility and logic to the price but be aware that it is often just used as a negotiation tactic. Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioural economics, studied the techniques that ‘sellers have developed to gain the upper hand against savvy buyers’. 

5. Act disinterested

Browse more products, examine them all carefully, don’t show your enthusiasm for a specific item. Pretend you are just looking around and ask about a variety of products. Don’t talk to your friends in front of the shopkeeper about how important it is to buy a certain gift for someone.

6. Buy in bulk

It will be much easier to get a significant discount if you buy more items. You might even end up paying half or one third of the initial price per product. So make a list of people for whom you want to buy souvenirs. It will make the whole process more efficient.

7. It’s OK to walk away

…and then come back. Seeing you walk away might convince the shopkeeper to lower the price. And if not, it means he/she’s very strong about the last offer. If the price seems worth to you, go back, it’s quite common. If not, keep looking, you will definitely find a similar product in another shop.

8. Don’t feel obliged to buy

Shopkeepers will show you a variety of products and will go to great lengths to unpack things and display them all for you. However, that’s part of the selling ritual so you shouldn’t feel obliged to buy anything.

9. Once said it’s set

Once you offer a price and the shopkeeper agreed to it, you cannot continue haggling, you need to buy the product at that price. So think well how much a product is worth to you before launching an offer.

10. Be nice and have fun

Ultimately, smile, be polite and enjoy the experience, that’s why you are there, right?

If you have other haggling tips, leave your comments below. See you at EAIE Istanbul 2013!