For 2012 Holidays, War Is On Against Amazon: Target Matches Online Rival Prices

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The competition for shopper dollars is always fierce during the winter holidays. Last year, arguably no retailer was as aggressive as Amazon, which boldly stole customers with a price-checking app promotion that was described as “evil” by small businesses and casual observers. For the most part, Amazon’s sales strategies worked, resulting in a huge increase in online sales in general, and for Amazon.com specifically. This year, brick-and-mortar giants such as Best Buy, Target, and Walmart aren’t sitting around waiting for their customers to be wooed away by the world’s largest e-retailer. They’re taking the fight to Amazon instead.

Here are some examples of retailers taking early holiday season swipes aimed at Amazon:

We’ll Match Amazon’s Prices
Tired of losing shoppers due to “showrooming” — the practice by which a shopper inspects an item at a physical store before purchasing it online at a cheaper price — Best Buy recently announced it would match the prices of major online retailers, most notably those of Amazon. Within days of Best Buy tweaking its price-matching policy, which in the past never including Internet pricing, Target has followed suit.

Bloomberg News, USA Today, and others reported that on Tuesday, Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel said that its stores would match online prices for identical items found at competing sites such as toysrus.com, walmart.com, and of course amazon.com. To get a price matched, a Target customer can show the item on a smartphone, or just ask a Target customer service representative to look it up.

(MORE: Best Buy’s Showrooming Counterattack: We’ll Match Amazon Prices)

While showrooming takes place year-round, Target says it’s going to be matching online prices only from November 1 to December 16. Also interesting: As recently as September, Target executives were spreading the message that the retailer would avoid deep discounting during the 2012 holidays. This week, however, while announcing the online price-matching policy, Steinhafel said Target’s strategy is to be “exceptionally competitive on price.” (At least through December 16 anyway.)

We Have Same-Day Delivery Too
If there’s one advantage that physical retailers have compared to e-retailers, it’s the immediate gratification factor. When you buy something in a store, you walk out with it. There’s no waiting for delivery.

Amazon has been trying to negate that advantage via same-day shipping, which is offered in select cities around the country starting at $8.99. And now, as of last week, Walmart is trying to beat Amazon at its own game, with same-day delivery ($10 flat) from walmart.com being tested out in major U.S. markets such as Philadelphia and San Francisco.

(MORE: Walmart Announces Save-Day Delivery, Tries to Beat Amazon at Its Own Game)

We’re Not Going to Sell Your Kindle
Once it was clear that Amazon was in direct competition with Target, Walmart, and other brick-and-mortar stalwarts, it seemed odd that stores continued to sell Amazon’s products. Sorta like McDonald’s selling Burger King gift certificates, or Starbucks selling Dunkin Donuts coffee beans, as one analyst put it.

In recent months, though, Target and Walmart pulled all Amazon e-readers and tablets from store shelves. Curiously, Best Buy, which has the most to lose due to Amazon’s competitive tactics because of the rising comfort among consumers to buy electronics online, still sells all varietals of the Kindle.

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

2 comments
RonSteele
RonSteele

It would be nice if target would price match their own online prices.  Yesterday my wife tried to buy a tripod at our local target that they have available online for $22.  Their in store price was $35.  She asked customer service and they wouldn't match their own website.  I had to order it online and choose "pick up in store".  A few hours later, I walked in and picked up the same tripod my wife tried to buy earlier.

nothereeither
nothereeither

As someone who has a "Prime" account on Amazon, in doing a search for a product I am interested in, I usually find it cheaper elsewhere. However, Amazon seems a little more eager to get things to you in the two days they advertise as apposed to other online stores - if I need it now and don't mind paying more for the convenience, I use Amazon, but Christmas shopping has been elsewhere due to pricing.