Commentary

In-Store, Mobile Price Checking Hits a Wall

Mobile shoppers looking for an in-store deal can easily whip out their smartphone, scan a product barcode to find the best price and then get the retailer to match that price.

Only if.

I’ve been scanning and price matching since forever ago and it still baffles me that it hasn’t moved to the mobile masses.

It turns out there are two problems with in-store price matching: most consumers could do it, but don’t, and most retailers could do it, but don’t.

Consumers in stores are 30% less likely than a year ago to perform price comparisons via their smartphone, according to a major annual mobile influence tracking study by Deloitte Digital, as I wrote about here recently (The 30% Drop in Mobile, In-Store Price Comparisons).

advertisement

advertisement

That study found that consumers were using their phones while shopping for inspiration and idea generation and not simply as a way to compare prices.

Other studies have found getting the best price to be at the top of the list of desires of shoppers in stores but the main methods tend to be looking for the products on other websites from their phones rather than scanning a barcode.

It also could be that the masses don’t realize that apps like ShopSavvy, RedLaser and ScanLife can provide all the competitive pricing within seconds after a barcode scan.

Even if that hurdle was mysteriously overcome and everybody started using price checking apps, consumers would face another wall, based on a new study.

If customers used mobile price comparison in a store, only 19% of retailers would match the price, according to the study Learning to Live in a Dynamic, Promotional World by Retail Systems Research (RSR). The study comprised a survey of 123 qualified retailers, 52% with revenue in excess of $1 billon.

Some major retailers like Best Buy and Staples saw the light a while back and set in motion a policy of price matching competitors’ prices, including those from Amazon.

Others, like Bed, Bath & Beyond and Nordstrom, have products that are a very slight variation from the same product sold elsewhere or have their own product packaging code, which generally can’t be read by smartphones outside of that retailer’s app, thereby masking competitive price transparency from shoppers.

Not surprisingly, based on the consumer findings in the Deloitte study, RSR found that 20% of retailers have not yet even come across mobile price comparisons from their customers.

Very few (3%) retailers say they beat the price of a competitor when faced with a shopper with a mobile price comparison while 10% change the game by offering an alternative reward.

Interestingly, some won’t even deal with mobile price matching, with 8% ignoring it altogether, though that is a decrease from 16% who ignored it last year.

And those are the official policies of retailers.

As anyone actively using mobile for in-store shopping is aware, there is policy and there is on-the-floor reality.

While the official company policy may be to match a price found via mobile price comparison, the salesperson a consumer is dealing with may have no idea what that means, never mind know how to do it.

If a consumer pushes, a manager can get involved to execute the company policy, costing the retailer even more based on employee resource for that sale, in turn, effectively reducing the cost of the product even more.

I bumped into this issue in a recent purchase at a Walmart, where a price comparison via ShopSavvy showed the same product at Target for half the price. To make a very long story short, it took the sales clerk and three managers to finally approve the transaction.

Mobile price comparisons could save shoppers so much money.

Only if they knew it. And the retailer allowed it.

Next story loading loading..