Saturday, February 16, 2013

Best Buy hopes to combat 'showrooming' with year-round price-match policy

Best Buy has made its price-match policy permanent, it was announced on Friday. The newly year-round policy goes live on March 3, and hopes to combat the popular practice of "showrooming," when consumers visit brick-and-mortar stores to get look at products before ultimately placing an order online.

Not only do retailers such as Amazon.com encourage showrooming, they make it easy. Amazon.com has Price Check apps for both Android and iOS.

In doing so, Best Buy joined Target, which announced that it was extending its own price-match practice year-round in early January. Target and Best Buy, like many other brick-and-mortar retailers, have a practice of price-matching Amazon.com and other online giants for the holidays, but both have now extended the policy to 365-days-a-year.

Best Buy isn't covering all Internet retailers with its policy. In particular, eBay is eschewed. The list is still quite large and, of course, could always change. The company said the following would be price-matched:
Amazon.com, Apple.com, Bhphotovideo.com, Buy.com, CircuitCity.com, CompUSA.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, hhgregg.com, HP.com, HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com, Newegg.com, OfficeDepot.com, OfficeMax.com, Sears.com, Staples.com, Target.com, TigerDirect.com, and Walmart.com.
One might wonder why Circuit City and CompUSA are there, but both of those brands were picked up by Systemax, the parent company of TigerDirect, also in the list, after their demise.

All is not rosy for consumers, though. In addition to the price match change, the company will reduce its merchandise return policy from 30 days to 15 days. Best Buy said it reduced its return window to align with its policy that allows customers to claim lower prices on items they’ve purchased in the retailer’s stores and online.

One other caveat: the low price guarantee doesn’t cover cell phones purchased under contract.

Matt Furman, Best Buy spokesperson, said:
We are going to a low-price guarantee. There is no doubt that this new policy ends showrooming for Best Buy customers.
It may affect showrooming, but it doesn't eliminate the other big advantage that Amazon.com and other big e-tailers like TigerDirect have: No need for a trip to the store (meaning no gasoline used) and a much larger selection that most brick-and-mortar stores offer.

On Friday, Best Buy's stock rose 7.4 percent to $16.87. The shares have risen 42 percent this year, following three straight years of price declines.



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