I’ve done it; you’ve probably done it. Gone into a store, looked at a PC or TV or other electronic device, and then checked online to see if you can get a better price from Amazon. Retailers call that “showrooming”, and they hate it.
So they’re fighting back. Best Buy and Target will match Amazon’s prices during the holiday season, both retailers said this week.
Best Buy’s price match program will be offered Nov. 4-17 and again from Nov. 27 to Dec. 24 and applies to appliances and electronics, Customers must ask for the reduced price, which will be granted based on the judgment of employees on the sales floor, Best Buy spokeswoman Amy von Walter told the Associated Press. I’m not sure what that means, so it would probably be safe to print out a page from Amazon’s Web site and bring it with you to the store or have a Web page ready to go on your smartphone.
If an advertised item is sold out in the store, Best Buy will ship it for free, an effort to keep the customer from simply buying it from Amazon or other e-tailer.
For its part, Target will match prices of Wal-Mart, Amazon, Toy R Us and Best Buy from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16. A spokeswoman for the chain told me that more details, including how a customer can actually obtain the discount, will be released next week. Target stores will offer free Wi-Fi and will put QR codes on the season’s popular toys, making it easier to buy them with a smartphone and have them shipped for free. That will also give parents a way to buy a holiday present without tipping off an accompanying kid.
This is the first year that Target will offer price matching, and it comes at a time when retailers are finding it difficult to match prices offered by Amazon and other online stores. California and a number of other states have forced Amazon to begin collecting sales tax on purchases made by residents, a move that raises Amazon prices and makes it a bit easier for the traditional brick and mortar retailers to compete.
Discount giant Wal-Mart, also pushed hard by Amazon, is now experimenting with same-day delivery in certain areas so shoppers who purchase items online have no waiting period before getting their goods.
San Francisco journalist Bill Snyder writes frequently about business and technology. His work appears regularly in CIO.com and the publications of Stanford's Graduate School of Business and the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. He welcomes your comments and suggestions.