Target price matches more efficiently after poor first attempt
A growing trend among battling big box retailers is price matching, and Target has upped the ante by offering price matching for the entire year, not just during holidays. The announcement follows their confusing price matching scheme over the holidays wherein their physical stores would match online prices of any item on their website, but only if the items were in stock online, and only between November 1st and December 16th. We know, that’s a hot mess.
Now, not only will the retailer price match all of their online items regardless of stock status, it will be offering price matching against specific rivals like Amazon.com, as well online items at Walmart, Best Buy, Toys ‘R’ Us, and Babies ‘R’ Us, among others, in an effort to curb shoppers from shopping offline to see tangible items, then finding them online for a lower price and purchasing them elsewhere, often while in the very store that is losing business to the web.
How Target price matches to other websites
In order for the price match to be honored, shoppers must prove to guest services an online competitor’s lower price, prior to purchasing the item. Additionally, if an item has been purchased in a physical store and a lower price is found online, proving the lower price to guest services will result in a price match after the fact. For the first quarter, this will likely elicit confused responses from shoppers who show their smartphone to the cashiers, but later in the year, one could assume the problem will fade.
“We believe that our prices are competitive year-round,” Target’s Senior Vice President of Merchandising Operations said in a statement. “We also know that our guests shop in many ways,” alluding to the web.
Target out to compete, setting bar for other big boxes
Stores like Target have to do something not only to respond to the competitive nature of the web, but in response to holiday sales that failed to meet economists’ expectations. This is another step for the company not only to modernize, but to keep up.
Other big boxes have begun price matching offers – Best Buy has dabbled in the price matching game, but for now, their offer expires on January 31st after the holidays. With Target’s announcement, we could very well see this Best Buy offer extended, perhaps through the summer or even for all of 2012 if they’re looking to keep up with Target and the predictable onslaught of followers.
Watch for the JCPenneys, Macy’s, Safeways, Wal-Marts, and Home Depots of the world to follow suit in some fashion. Smaller businesses and retailers won’t likely be able to price match the big box retailers, but watch for price matching on some level, even between neighboring small businesses and their websites to stay in line with retail trends.