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Toys “R” Us tackles holiday showrooming with online price matchBy Rebecca Borison
A majority of Toys “R” Us shoppers will likely have their smartphone in hand during the holiday season, and they will be able to look up in-store products on their phones to see if they can find a better price. Toys “R” Us seems to recognize this obstacle for bricks-and-mortar stores and has decided to match online prices to help increase in-store purchases.
“With online shopping growing rapidly, the addition of online competitors to our already strong Price Match Guarantee enables consumers to take advantage of our vast assortment of toys and juvenile products, while being assured they are getting the best price,” said Linda DeNotaris, manager of corporate communications at Toys”R”Us, Wayne, NJ.
“This year, Toys “R” Us will continue to match a competitor’s advertised price on identical items,” she said. “Customers may present a local competitor’s print ad or, new this year, their website, showing the item available for less, and we’ll match it.”
The updated price match guarantee will apply for all Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us stores nationwide. The company has promised to match prices from sites including Walmart.com, Target.com, BestBuy.com, Amazon.com and more.
To receive a price match, shoppers must either show a cashier the identical item in a print ad or display the item on a smartphone via a retailer’s Web site or a mobile application.
Customers can also retroactively receive a price adjustment if they have a valid receipt and a local competitor advertised a product at a lower price within seven days of their original purchase.
Prices are matched after applying any Toys “R” Us coupons or offers, as well as after shipping charges are factored into the competitor’s online price.
Price Match will not be available on Thanksgiving, Black Friday or from Nov. 17 through Nov. 25.
There are other limitations as well, including the fact that price match only applies to two of the same item and that it does not apply to Amazon Marketplace.
With all of the online retailers and price check sites and apps, bricks-and-mortar stores are facing the challenge of getting a shopper to purchase in their stores.
According to a comScore report, 33 percent of shoppers use smartphones to find a store, 21 percent use them to compare prices and 20 percent use them to look for deals (see story).
Price matching is one way to combat these issues, but there are some other tactics out there as well.
Some retailers are using technologies such as store-branded apps, integration tools between in-store and online and shopper loyalty programs to ensure competitive pricing with the Web and retain consumers in the store (see story).
Other tactics include enhancing merchandising and store displays, offer competitive prices and offer mobile deals and discounts to in-store shoppers via geolocation.
“Consumer access to the web via smartphones means instant access to competitive pricing information, including prices from aggregated marketplaces like Amazon,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “While there is certainly an element of added value delivered by the in-person retail experience, fast and free shipping has equalized this and fueled the showrooming phenomenon.”
Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with Toys “R” Us. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.
“By matching pricing, Toys “R” Us takes away the incentive for shoppers to buy online from a competitor,” he said. “Of course brick-and-mortar locations can also deliver immediate possession of the item, versus having to wait for it to arrive in the mail. Increasingly, retailers with large brick and mortar presence have little choice but to match online pricing.”
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York
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