Should stores match their own Web site prices? How Target failed.

I’m a movie buff. Just about everyone who reads this probably knows that, but if you don’t, check out my film blog to see what I mean. Back? Good.
When Zack Snyder’s Watchmen came out on July 21st, I was psyched. I have all the gear I need to really enjoy the film in all its 1080p Blu-Ray fidelity and a day or two before even went to a couple of Web sites to compare prices.
I noted that target.com had the best price: $21.49, so that morning I popped into the local Target and was a bit dismayed to find that it was priced on the shelf at $25.99.
I asked the customer service people if they’d match the online price, and they said “no, we can’t do that.”
“But,” I said, “Let me show you: on the Web site it says that the $21.49 is the in store price.” I showed her this:

target watchmen 1

On the site, as you can see, they’re promoting that it’s available in the store. Click on the ad graphic and you get to the price:
target watchmen 2

“Ah,” the manager explained, “you’d have to pay for shipping if you bought it from the Web site, so it’d end up the same price anyway.”
I wasn’t impressed. Seems to me that even if they want to price things differently online versus on the shelf, the store should at least have a policy of matching prices with its own Web site. That’s a customer-centric perspective, and apparently Target is more focused on preserving the integrity of its business silos.
So I walked out and went over to Best Buy, where, to their credit, the assistant manager pulled up the Target.com site, found that they were indeed offering Watchmen Blu-Ray for $21.49 and matched the price. The price tag on the Best Buy box? $29.99. Their online price for the movie on the bestbuy.com site? $22.99.
Big difference? Target said “no” and didn’t match prices with its Web site. Best Buy said “sure” and not only matched its own online price, but came down another $1.50 and matched the Target.com price.
Target, you might need to rethink this policy. Otherwise it seems like you’re ripping off your in-store customers without any recourse when one of them is savvy enough to catch on to what’s happening.

10 comments on “Should stores match their own Web site prices? How Target failed.

  1. I agree that Target should have matched their online price. For roughly $4.50 Target lost a sale, and potentially future sales as you may be inclined to check out Best Buy first in the future. When individuals and companies say they “can’t” it usually means they do not care enough to want to.

  2. I agree. I went to Targets website looking a Power Wheels truck for my sons birthday. I found what I wanted, then called the Store to see if they had it in stock, and they did, but there was a $40 different in the price, the lady I spoke with said that she couldn’t match the online price. My wife even called back, spoke to the manager and he said that according to Target policy we can’t match the online price….. Target will not get anymore of my money if this is how they are going to do things.
    By the way Toys R Us matched the Target price.

  3. i completely agree with all these comments…target is def loosin business…even staples price matches…..target should def step their game up b4 they lose their customers…

  4. I agree. The same thing happened to me yesteday. Online the Leap Frog Tag reading system is $39.99 in store it was $49.99 and they would not price match their own website. I was very upset!

  5. Don’t lump all Targets together…I returned a dvd to my local (Taylors, SC) store because it had a skip in it the first time we watched it and they not only let me go grab a fresh copy off the shelf but also gave me 2 bucks for gas money to have to come all the way into the store.

  6. Big business has let their title get to their heads. The solution, every holiday if we all purchased $20 in specialty holiday items waited until 3-4 days until after the holiday, then returned the item, not only would the company be losing out on profit but they would be forced to sell the item at a loss. We need to demand customer service and hit these companies the only place it will hurt them, their pockets. I know its a stretch, it will take may customer taking action to send a message of any significance;however, im sure that is the same obstacle that vegetarians faced, now look at how many items are organic or cater specifically to vegetarians.

  7. Yes, I agree with George that customer taking action to send a message is the way to go. The “How Target Failed” example demonstrates a worrying trend.

  8. If you would have read below the picture that you posted, it says “prices, promotions, and availability vary by store and online”. When you click to find out if a store has it, you get the same disclaimer, and you are checking availablity (which also may not be correct). Target and Target.com are essentially two different businesses. Target may have an item on sale online to drive business to the website, and it may not be available in the store. Also, the price listed cannot reflect the store price, because store prices differ (based on the local market, competative shopping with local competitors, and other varying factors).

  9. The only other store I know that don’t price match their own site is Borders. I have never try Barnes And Noble, FYE, Macy’s, Michael’s, Sears, JcPennys, Lowes and Home Depots. So don’t know would they price match their own site.
    Two Best Buys in the San Franciciso Bay Area that I go to, price match their own site, at.
    Geary Blvd CA
    2675 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA, 94118
    Colma CA
    200 Colma Blvd, Colma, CA, 94014
    Since Target don’t price match their own website, then they should not have this on their site at all. Weekly Ad under which ever section, because that would get people to click on to see.
    If on the sunday paper ad say Titles shown and selected others. That is the case on the DVD and Blu-Ray part. The Weekly Ad part in the movie section on the website, is where people to check what are the other ones that are also part of the sale, plus people will automatically click to check which store has it in stock. When they can, before just going out to the closes store.
    Let say for example A-Team (Includes Digital Copy)(Blu-ray/DVD)- Target Exclusive, Max Payne(Widescreen)(Dual-layered DVD), Eloise in Springtime, Resident Evil: Afterlife(Blu-ray) and Erin Brockovich (Widescreen)(Dual-layered DVD) are part of the Weekly Ad sale, but it is not on the sunday paper ad. You have to go to the website to see by clicking on Weekly Ad in the movie section, since the on the paper it said Titles shown and selected others. Now if the store DOES NOT have the sale price posted by any of the the stuff, would they hornor their web price on that. IF NOT they they should NOT even have the Weekly Ad part in any of the sections at all on their website.

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