matching the lowest price

During one of my searches for the lowest price online (it was a watch in this case) I found a company that was asking much more for the watch than most other vendors, but they said they would match any competitor’s price. Curious, I e-mailed them with the lowest price I had found, some $50 less than their price, asking if they would match it. A few days later I received their response telling me I had a special price that was only valid for 7 days, but it was the same as the competitor.

They’re imitating the behavior of many brick and mortar retail stores who accept competitor’s coupons and match prices, but the benefits are mainly convenience. That’s not an issue online, and unless one site is more trusted or has some other benefit, matching prices doesn’t cut it. There is no compelling reason to use the special offer. In fact, I prefer to give my business to the one that had a lower price to begin with. Besides, I had to wait a few days at the other site just to get the same price I could have already gotten. What’s the point?

Assuming all else is equal, the only way price-matching is going to work online is if they offer to beat the price of their competitors by a decent amount. If I could save $5 or $10, I would probably be willing to wait. Otherwise, I’ll always go with the lowest original price.


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  1. Yes, but it is a good gimick for the company to say “we have a low price guaranty”. It makes people want to shop around less cause the company signals that they want to be the loss leader. The company does not actually want to match prices and get a sale. It wants the 90% of consumers that just assume that the low price guaranty must mean they have a low prices.

    Comment by Stephen on November 29, 2004 @ 7:59 am
  2. I’ve found it important to also look at shipping costs. Some have free shipping, some have expensive shipping. Sometimes the free shipping takes a week, sometimes next day. There are a lot of things to consider.

    Comment by Cameron on November 29, 2004 @ 3:27 pm
  3. Cameron: Right. When comparing prices, I always use the total price with shipping and taxes. I usually don’t care how long it will take as long as it comes in a reasonable amount of time, so I’m happy to pay less for shipping and wait a little longer.

    Comment by dan on November 29, 2004 @ 4:10 pm
  4. I generally go with the lowest price as well, but have recently started to re-think this. I would willingly pay a bit more if the product I’m ordering is coming from a company that I’ve dealt with before and feel some sort of loyalty. Also, in order to support my local bookstores, I’ll try to find a book I’m looking for there instead of purchasing it online. I have a creeping feeling that if we don’t support the little guy sometimes we might not have a choice later. For what it’s worth.

    Comment by jason on November 30, 2004 @ 4:28 pm

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