Will Price-Matching Websites Just Result In More Angry Best Buy & Target Customers?

Image courtesy of (Ron Dauphin)

In the last week, both Target and Best Buy have each announced they will match prices on Amazon and other online retailers at their bricks and mortar stores. While the goal is to woo customers into retail stores by taking away the attractive discounts seen online, some wonder if this will result in ticked-off customers standing in line.

Much in the way that extreme couponers can cause a logjam at the checkout line when they pull out their Trapper Keeper full of discounts, some theorize that lengthy discussions about what should and shouldn’t merit price-matching could lead to unpleasantness in the store.

“Can you imagine being on the checkout line at Target with 20 items and you’re scanning products on your phone to find out the gum is 12 cents less at Amazon?” Sheri Petras, chief executive of consulting company CFI Group asks the Wall Street Journal. “Can you imagine standing behind that person in line?”

While Best Buy tells the Journal that its test of price-matching went swimmingly, we see several potential headaches for holiday shoppers and the staffers who have to deal with them.

For example, the retailer will only match Amazon’s actual prices on items, which means that an item sold by a third-party seller will not qualify. That makes sense in theory, but we also foresee lots of tense, irate customers waving their smartphones in a Best Buy manager’s face and demanding that it match the price and they don’t care whether it’s actually being sold by Kenny’s HiFi Hut in Kankakee.

Additionally, all price matches must be verified by a Best Buy employee on a store computer, which means another step in the process. And Best Buy staffers have the right to say that they can’t match a price because it’s simply too low. Surely that will go over well to someone who is already under the gun to get all their shopping done in the one day they have free from their kids.

And then there is just the simple fact that by announcing these price-matching deals, some consumers who aren’t terribly well versed in online shopping might just say to themselves, “Maybe I should check out this Amazon thing, especially if I’m going to have to jump through hoops to get the lower price.”

Holiday Price-Matching Could Backfire for Retailers [WSJ.com]