Walmart Tells All U.S. Managers They Can Now Price-Match Online Retailers Like Amazon

It’s a war out there in the world of retail, and having the lowest prices around is a weapon every brick-and-mortar store has been trying to keep in its arsenal. Not so easy when online retailers like Amazon are constantly lowering prices. All that might change for Walmart, as store managers have been told it’s time to officially start price-matching Amazon and others.

We’ve known for a few weeks now that Walmart was considering allowing stores to match lower prices found online for customers who walk into the 5,000 or so locations in the country, and today the company’s head of U.S. business says that idea has been given the go ahead.

According to a brief report from Reuters, Greg Foran, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., made it seem basically inevitable, saying that the company informed managers that they can match prices with online retailers, because plenty of them were doing just that anyway.

This is just a way to formalize that practice, Foran explained. Some managers were already price-matching on certain items on a case-by-case basis.

“About half of the stores were doing it anyway,” he said during a call this morning reporting Walmart’s quarterly results.

A Walmart spokesmam expanded in an email to consumerist, writing that the price-matching officially begins tomorrow, Nov. 14:

We are expanding our Ad Match policy to be the most progressive in the industry. Through our Online Price Match policy, customers will be able to request the list price at Walmart.com or any online competitor. Store management has the authority to take care of the customer and match any online competitor to ensure a positive, hassle-free customer experience.

As Greg Foran noted, it is important to note that store managers have always been empowered to take care of the customer including to match online prices. This move is just a formalization of our commitment to always taking care of customers and leading on price.

Price-matching might end up costing Walmart money, but it also works against showrooming: If a customer likes something they see in a store, go online on their phones and see that Amazon has it for less, they’re not going to purchase it right there in the store. But if the price is the same, it’s more likely that shopper will just buy it right there.

Let the price-matching wars begin — because when more companies are fighting to give shoppers the lowest price, consumers win.

UPDATE, 11/20/14: After an unfortunate incident involving some game consoles, Walmart has tightened this price-matching policy to exclude Amazon Marketplace and other third-party sellers.

Wal-Mart told store managers to match online prices with Amazon [Reuters]