Will price matching really keep your customers loyal?

by Steve Pruitt

Q: I’ve been reading about some bigger retailers like Target and Best Buy offering to match lower prices that customers see online, upon request. This is an effort to keep customers loyal, and avoid them buying from whomever is cheaper. Do you think this is a strategy that clothing merchants should take for the holiday season? And if so, which part of the market should use this strategy?

Steve Pruitt: Honestly, I find this to be slippery slope, even though I do know that some of our merchants already do this (quietly). There are many questions that need to be dealt with. Below are a few issues that come to mind:

1. Is it actually the same item the customer saw online?
2. Does the price to be matched include all the costs associated with buying the article, especially the alteration costs?
3. Before taking a competitive markdown the retailer should contact the vendor for their opinion.

With all of these considerations, it can be a complicated decision, so I say watch out. A better strategy is to steer away from carrying products that can be easily purchased online and stay in the “specialty” market.

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