In an attempt to thwart online competition, several brick-and-mortar stores are offering price match guarantees to boost holiday sales and encourage shoppers to make in-store purchases.
According to a national survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of CouponCabin.com, "more than four-in-ten (43 percent) of smartphone or tablet owners have 'showroomed,' i.e. used their device to research and examine merchandise in a brick and mortar store without purchasing it there, then gone online to search for a lower price." Of those participants who showroomed a particular product, 97 percent say they subsequently bought the same item online for a lower price at one time or another. Although some stores already offer price match guarantees for local competitors' brick-and-mortar stores, they are now stepping up their game to compete with online retailers.
Last week, Best Buy announced that it would match prices offered from about a dozen websites, including Amazon.com, Sears.com and Staples.com. The price match policy is in effect from Nov. 4 to Nov. 17 and Nov. 27 to Dec. 24. The offer will be suspended on Black Friday and during Cyber Week. Best Buy says the policy covers appliances and electronics, but there is some ambiguity to it: Store employees will honor the price match at their discretion and only if they are asked to do so. In addition to the price match guarantee, Best Buy will offer free shipping on items that are out of stock.
Target stores quickly followed suit by saying they would match prices from BestBuy.com and other major online retailers. Go here for full details on Target's price match policy, including terms and conditions. The price match guarantee is offered from Nov. 1 through Dec. 16. It will be honored on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but limited-time offers are excluded. Target also announced an extended return policy: If a customer makes an in-store purchase between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 and then finds the qualifying item at a lower price at Target.com or in a local competitor's printed ad, Target will match that price.
Brick and mortar stores may be late to jump on the bandwagon with price match policies. For years, consumers have been using sites like Pricegrabber.com to compare online retailers' prices instantly and find the best deal. However, there are some advantages to shopping at a big-box store versus online. Many people still prefer the tactile experience of shopping in a physical store. The customer service angle is another advantage: You can speak with a salesperson face-to-face. And when it comes to electronics and appliances, especially those that require assembly or setup, stores that offer their own delivery and installion services (like Best Buy) are definitely a plus.
Even if you don't take advantage of brick-and-mortar stores' price match guarantee this holiday season, it's good to know that you have the option.