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Staples combats holiday showrooming with price match guarantee

Staples has announced a new price match guarantee, encouraging consumers to transact in-store instead of finding a better deal on their smartphones or tablets.

The new policy will go into effect on Nov. 3, right before the holiday season. Staples will price match items sold and shipped by or any retailer who sells products in both retail stores and online under the same brand.

“The new Staples Price Match Guarantee is part of our overall corporate omnichannel strategy, which makes it easier for our customers to shop and save this holiday season whether they’re shopping in our stores or on,” said Carrie McElwee, spokesperson for Staples, Framingham, MA.

“Staples customers’ will be able to shop confidently knowing that we are providing them with all the right product and must-have gifts at the lowest prices,” she said.

Price match
Staples consumers can use the price match offer in-store on online. They can show the Staples Customer Service Desk associate the lower price at the time of purchase in a Staples store, or they can call 1-800-333-3330 to get a price match on

Consumers can also show a lower price within 14 days of a purchase to get a refund from Staples.

The price match does not apply during Staples’ or competitors’ special events such as grand openings, clearance or Black Friday.

Examples of stores that Staples will price match are Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Office Depot and Walmart.

In order to get a price match the product must be identical, in-stock and available for purchase.

A number of big box retailers have been rolling out price match guarantees, most likely to combat the effects of showrooming.

Consumers often go into a store to search for a product, but then find a better price on their phone and choose to convert on the mobile site. Retailers are trying to figure out how to fight this phenomenon, and many are resorting to price matching.

According to a recent Vibes report, showrooming has increased 156 percent year-over-year (see story).

This is clearly an issue that retailers cannot ignore.

Toys “R” Us also rolled out a price match guarantee in August to tackle holiday showrooming (see story).

Best Buy went a slightly different route and tried to enhance the in-store experience with exclusive deals to try to combat showrooming (see story).

“Staples and other large retailers are facing increased pressure from online pure-plays like Amazon and need to answer this challenge,” said Wilson Kerr, vice president of business development and sales at Unbound Commerce, Boston. “By reducing their retail footprint and building up their online and mobile shopping technical toolsets and offerings, they can better meet this challenge head on.

Mr. Kerr is not affiliated with Staples. He commented based on his expertise on the subject.

“A price match guarantee takes the wind out of the ‘showrooming’ sail and allows a consumer to both experience in-store, personal interaction with salespeople and also know they are getting the best price, without having to lug an item through the check-out line and back to their door,” he said.

“The reason showrooming has been such a problem for physical retail stores is that comparison shopping, by price, drives consumers to a mobile site that is unfettered from the expenses associated with a physical location. Price matching, assuming you can make up the ground in volume, addresses this head on.”

Final Take
Rebecca Borison is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York