Big box retailers like Target have been on the losing end of the price matching wars, as online-only retailers like Amazon urge customers to view products in-person at brick-and-mortar stores, but purchase online. But now, Target is putting on its big girl panties and fighting fire with fire. The mega-retailer announced Tuesday that it is instituting a new price matching policy—effective immediately. But here’s the kicker: it’s only price matching specific online retailers—namely, Amazon, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRus.com (including BabiesRus.com), and will even price match items found on Target.com.
So basically, if you buy a “qualifying item” at a Target store and then find the same item for less within seven days on one of the select online retailers’ sites, you can actually go back to Target and get the difference back. You just march right up to Target Guest Services with your receipt in hand and proof of the lower price. Or you can do the same thing prior to a purchase by going directly to Guest Services.
It’s a worthy effort, but it’s not going to counteract the momentum of online retail. Let’s weigh the options for buying the cheapest toothbrush: I could just buy it on Amazon and have it at my door in a day or two, or I can haul my cookies down to Target, pull up said toothbrush on my phone, and show it to a sales associate who doesn’t earn enough to care.
It’s kind of sad, actually. Target’s new price matching policy isn’t innovative or cutting edge—it’s just an attempt at keeping up with Amazon.
The move comes just months after Target unapologetically gave Amazon’s Kindle tablets and e-readers the boot, citing Amazon’s use of brick-and-mortar stores like Target as a showroom and then undercutting them on the price.
Amazon really pushed it in the 2011 holiday season when it offered a 5% off promotion for customers who used its Price Check app. In other words, it encouraged customers to go into a brick-and-mortar store, scan an item, and then purchase it through Amazon instead.
Walmart joined Target in shucking Amazon’s products in August, and like Target, it will continue to sell other tablets and e-readers, like the iPad and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. The Walmart ax fell just weeks ahead of the 2012 holiday season, so with Kindle Fires and e-readers no longer adorning the shelves of two of the largest big box retailers in the country, the move had to have some kind of impact on Amazon’s shopping season.
Of course, Amazon doesn’t release sales figures for its Kindle products, but its earnings call is coming up in a couple of weeks.
Image source: Nytimes.com