Best Buy Deals With Store Revolt On Price-Matching

The more chains try to dictate merged channel strategies—where online, mobile, in-store and call center are all part of one big happy homogeneous family—the more day-to-day realities interfere. Today's object lesson is from Best Buy. (Yes, again.) The merged channel issue here is compensation and credit; specifically, price-matching products from BestBuy.com in-store. The problem: Price-matching the E-Commerce site erodes margins and makes the store look bad, while sending the customer to a kiosk or their phone to order online makes the problem go away. The corporate problem: That's against policy. The corporate solution: Make the problem go away by ordering it to go away.

The issue started with one store (that we know of) posting a homemade sign telling customers, in effect, "Hey! You want online prices? Go buy online. You want to buy in our store? Pay what's on the &^@&! pricetag." Best Buy corporate heard about the sign and ordered all stores to indeed play by the rules and price-match. That's fine, except the chain didn't address the underlying issue. If that memo said brick-and-mortar managers will no longer have to take the hit for the lower margins of a dot-com price-match, then the problem would go away. Given Best Buy's history on this issue, it is certainly likely.