With so much competition and evolving methods for buying goods it stands to reason that price has become a more common differentiator than it was in the past. The question is; Can a retailer simply use cliché marketing schemes anymore to entice customers into thinking that by shopping with them you’ll always be paying the lowest price and if not they will match or beat it?
What these marketing scheme probably didn’t foresee was how accessible competitive pricing is in the digital age. This means that these so called ‘lowest price guarantee’ retailers now have to actually live up to their offers. Have they put themselves at risk of leaving a negative impression on customers if they don’t manage these efficiently or without hassle?
So as the story goes, I walk into one of these retailers where their catalogues and marketing give you the impression that you will always be paying less, with conditions applying of course (in much smaller font at the bottom). So it is here that I line up at the counter and present the cashier with a competitive brochure that clearly lists the same product at a lower price. I make reference to their ‘amazing’ offer in the comfort that I am getting a great deal. This is where the breakdown in ‘amazing’ begins.
First I get ‘the look’ of ‘great I have to deal with one of these’ people. Immediately I become a bit uncomfortable and notice that the others in line behind me begin to do the ‘hurry up shuffle’, we’ve all experienced at one time or another. Of course the young cashier is not in a position to manage such ‘complex’ transactions, so I must now wait while they call the manager who is apparently the only one who can manage them.
The manager finally arrives, while other shoppers are still waiting and this is where the real fun begins. They have a closer look at the brochure because part of the conditions are that it must be the exact same product. They are looking for model numbers to make sure this is the case, when the image makes this pretty obvious. Then they ask where the store is located as another part of the conditions stipulate that it must be in a location near them or in the same shopping centre. Now they must make sure that the item is actually in stock at this location so the manager says they’ll be right back after they call to check. Remember that crowd behind me, well they’ve either moved across to another register huffing and puffing (admittedly I would probably do the same) so ‘I offer’ to stand aside to let someone else to go ahead while I wait. I feel so privileged!
A few minutes later the manager comes back and confirms that the item is in stock so they will match the price (in that special tone of voice as if they were doing me a favour). As the operator rings it up at the same price I enquire about the ‘amazing’ offer to beat any price by X% which of course then the manager must go into the system to override. Notice I had to ask again.
Now this isn’t the only time I experienced this, just the most frustrating and embarrassing. What actually transpired here? Well I really don’t want to go through that again and to be honest the difference in price was only $40. Will I bother again, I doubt it. With so much competition and discounting these days I would rather haggle with a salesperson prior to going to the counter at a retailer that is known for begin more ‘aggressive’ on the shop floor. Look, if they say they can’t than nothing ventured nothing gained and I haven’t affected any other shoppers.
It also proves to me and others I’ve spoken to (that have had similar experiences), that these ‘Price Guarantees’ are really throw away marketing lines that add no value. They are just another reason to use ‘showrooming’ to keep them honest. I must add in here that I have been to a retailer that will match any price even if it’s on the internet. At the end of the day they figure that if you ask than you are a legitimate buyer so why not take your money while you’re offering. Makes sense to me, no hassle and everyone feels like they’ve won! I would hope other bricks and mortar retailer adopt this philosophy.
Have you had similar experiences and how has this changes your perception of pricing and discounting?