Best Buy today (Oct. 12) announced it will match the prices of 20 major online retailers in an attempt to grab consumers before they leave its stores to buy the gadgets online this holiday shopping season. However, prospective buyers should be aware that there are some limits to Best Buy's offer.
"Out of the 600 million visitors that come into our stores, 40 percent make a purchase," Amy von Walter, spokeswoman for Best Buy, told TechNewsDaily. "We're trying to improve that by tackling a couple of areas."
In addition to the online price-matching, Best Buy will also insure products are in the store or offer free home delivery for customers. The big-box store also spent millions of dollars on additional training for its blue-shirt store reps. "We're also giving our frontline employees the power to match prices when it makes sense," she said.
The phrase "when it makes sense," echoed in employee materials, the Wall Street Journal reported, seems to be subjective. Apparently Best Buy wants to protect itself against prices it can't conceivably meet – such as Amazon selling $50 Kindle Fires as a promotion. Von Walter said that provided the price is competitive, Best Buy is up for the negotiation.
"If 100 percent of the consumer's hesitation is because of the price, we're empowering our blue shirts to match that price and make the sale," von Walter said.
Best Buy is attempting to curtail " showrooming," the practice in which consumers examine and test out products in a store and then go online to make their final purchase. By debuting the service now, Best Buy hopes to boost sales during the busy holiday season and take some of the savings from online retailers who don't employ as many workers or have as much overhead.
There are some limits to the price-matching, however.
- Consumers will have to ask employees to match the online price and may have to provide evidence of the lower price. Von Walter said this is up to the discretion of the individual employee because there is no set guideline other than asking for the price match.
- The online price-matching is effective immediately and ends Dec. 24, but is not honored between Nov. 23-26 (historically the Black Friday through Cyber Monday shopping period).
- The deal includes only appliances and electronics hardware from 20 online retailers (see list below) – and excludes third parties such as Amazon Marketplace vendors or Ebay sellers.
The 20 online retailers that Best Buy will price-match are: