On Nov 13, Walmart announced that it would begin price-matching in its stores with selected online retailers including Amazon.com, Inc. (AMZN) and Best Buy Co., Inc. (BBY). This implied that if anyone could find an identical product with any online retailer at a lower advertised price, Walmart will match the price in its store. The initiative was started to combat showrooming, where consumers checked out prices at a brick and mortar store and picked them up online at a cheaper rate. Also, this was a step taken to remain competitive in an extremely promotional shopping environment.
However, this led scammers to create fake pages at Amazon and put PS4s at massive discounts. This was possible because any Amazon member with a registered selling account could create such pages, which appeared to be genuine. Once the page was created, a screenshot of the listing was all that was needed to request the price match at Walmart.
The fraud was noticed by CNBC as photos of receipts were posted on social media by consumers who were able to get PS4s at $90. Though Amazon removed these fake listings, many customers were able to purchase gaming systems at steep discounts.
Walmart has however cracked down on the scam and clarified that it will match prices from Walmart.com and 30 major online retailers. This means that it will not include marketplace vendors, third-party sellers, auction sites or sites requiring memberships.
Also, there are some limitations with online price-matching policy. Firstly, the exact product has to be in stock. Secondly, the store manager needs to judge whether the item is sold at the same price. Also, a person cannot purchase a particular item more than once.
It is encouraging that instead of eliminating the price-matching policy, Walmart has amended its policy. This may also benefit customers during the holiday season. The stricter guidelines would help in stopping such incidents in the future.
Walmart currently holds a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).