In addition to tinkering with its return policy, it looks as if Best Buy is making another change
in order to deal with one huge, lumbering reality: the Internet
. A few months ago, Target announced that it would begin price-matching Amazon all year round in an effort to halt "showrooming" -- a term that describes the act of using a retail shop to check a product out, only to go home and buy it online for less. A few years ago, this process happened, but not in huge enough numbers to make material dents in the bottom line of brick-and-mortar retailers. Nowadays, it's notable. In fact, Circuit City caved years back in large part because of its inability to cope with a world where massive amounts of customers were turning to online e-tailers for shopping.
Under new leadership, Best Buy has announced an extension of its Low Price Guarantee, which will go fully into effect on March 3rd. The company isn't beating around the bush: it's making this change "to end showrooming." Best Buy will price match all local retail competitors and 19 major online competitors in all product categories and on nearly all in-stock products, whenever asked by a customer. Here's a bit of the legalese:
"At the time of purchase, we will match the current pre-tax price for new, identical, immediately available products from a local retail competitor’s store and these designated major online retailers: Amazon.com, Apple.com, Bhphotovideo.com, Buy.com, Crutchfield.com, Dell.com, Frys.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. We will match prices between our stores and BestBuy.com. We will also match prices post purchase if we lower our price within 15 days of your purchase. The Guarantee is limited to one price match per identical item, per guest and does not apply to: Contract mobile phone devices and plans, the online prices of retailers not listed, the online prices of third party vendors (Marketplace vendors) on designated major online retailers websites, post purchase price match requests to competitor’s prices."
That's a pretty comprehensive list, and outside of mobile sales, almost everything else seems covered. Now, the real question: can Best Buy still make ends meet while selling at online prices?