Target to match online prices for the first time
October 17, 2012 12:26 PM
Target Corp. is taking on e-retailers with a new price match policy for the holidays, the retailer announced today.
Target’s new holiday price match policy enables consumers to match prices in Target stores on qualifying items sold at Amazon.com Inc., BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and ToysRUs.com—including BabiesRUs.com—between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16.
The move is one more sign that bricks-and-mortar retailers like Target are trying to take on online retailers directly. Earlier this year, Target stopped selling Amazon.com Inc.’s Kindle tablet computer and e-readers. The competition is expected to intensify as the holiday shopping season approaches. Online shoppers in the United States will spend $54.47 billion this holiday season, up 16.8% from $46.63 billion last year, according to a projection from eMarketer.
The policy also includes items sold on Target.com, which are eligible for a price match eight days longer than items sold at competitors’ e-commerce sites. Target will match the price on items consumers buy in a Target store between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, a longer period than for competitors, and then find for less at Target.com or in a competitor’s printed ad.
Target says details about how the price matching will work will be available on its web site beginning Oct. 22.
Best Buy Inc., meanwhile, said Monday that it will match prices of a competitor’s local retail stores, another local Best Buy retail store and BestBuy.com now through Dec. 24, with the exception of Thanksgiving week and Cyber Monday. Best Buy also will match prices on items from certain e-retailers, such as Amazon.com, Apple.com, Crutchfield.com, Sears.com and Target.com. Best Buy also is offering free shipping on all online orders now through Dec. 24.
Target’s new holiday price match policy is a smart move, says Lauren Freedman, president of consultancy The E-tailing Group Inc. “In this competitive climate, where the price is just a click away, consumers are in control, and don’t want to take chances on not getting the best price,” Freedman says. “This now gives them confidence that if they pull the trigger they can be assured of getting the best price throughout the season.”
And the selection of Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, Walmart.com and ToysRUs.com makes sense, Freedman says, because they are Target’s top competitors. “All key categories are covered, and toys and electronics are given added exposure through all of these players,” she says.
Target is No. 23 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 guide. Best Buy Co. is No. 11, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. No. 4, Amazon.com No. 1 and Toys ‘R’ Us Inc. No. 29.
Target also is acknowledging that consumers use their smartphones to shop with a campaign that includes Quick Response codes—a form of two-dimensional bar codes—in television ads, bus shelter ads and catalog pages. Consumers can use an app on their smartphones to scan the code, which opens a mobile commerce site. The codes will appear in Target’s holiday ads beginning Nov. 7.
Target also is placing QR codes inside its stores near top-selling toys and in the shoe department. Consumers scanning the QR code in the toy department can purchase 20 of the best selling toys using their phones and ship them free in the United States.
And in time for the holidays, Target is making Wi-Fi available in all of its stores. Rather than rely on occasionally erratic cellular signals, the Wi-Fi connection will offer a more reliable connection to the Internet for consumers using their smartphones in its stores, Target says.
“Target began piloting Wi-Fi in a small number of stores early this year and we are in the process of rolling it out nationally,” the Target spokeswoman says. Target also says it is piloting a wayfinding technology that enables smartphones to recognize their location inside a store to help guide consumers to products.