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Target touts expanded price match policy

Online prices are now part of Target’s "low price promise" following an adjustment to the three year old price matching program.

Target said it now plans to extend price matching to its own Web sites as well as key online retailers such as Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and Toysrus.com. Target introduced its price match policy, branded as "Low Price Promise," in 2009 and has promoted it extensively ever since. It began matching select online competitors’ prices for the first time this holiday season and will now do so throughout the year. Walmart offers a similar program branded as its "Low Price Guarantee," but both retailers have struggled with the issue of matching their own online prices and that of online competitors. Earlier versions of both programs required shoppers to present an advertisement from a local competitor if they wanted to receive a low price.

"Guests can confidently shop at Target every day for the best value in retail," said Gregg Steinhafel, Target’s chairman, president and CEO. "We know that our guests often compare prices online. With our new price match policy and the additional 5% savings guests receive when they use their REDcard, Target provides an unbeatable value."

Target contends its price match policy is easy-to-use, but that hardly seems the case judging from the requirements place on shoppers to take advantage of the program. For example, if a guest, Target’s word for customer, buys a qualifying item at a Target store and then finds the identical item for less in the following week’s Target circular or within seven days on Target.com or the other previously mentioned retailers, Target will match the price. In addition, the price match may be requested at Target’s guest services department prior to a purchase as long as the customer can present proof of a current price or by bringing their original Target receipt and proof of current price. In both cases the burden is on the shoppers to monitor competitor pricing and document the difference.

Price matching is not a new phenomenon in retail, but the online component adds a challenging new wrinkle as rapidly changing prices and price optimization strategies could mean retailers are forced to match a price that existed for only an instant.

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