City Target opens in San Francisco

Target really, really wants you to stop buying stuff on Amazon.

The retailer announced today that it’s introducing year-round price matching to its online store. With the move, Target seeks to prevent consumers from checking out items in its stores and then buying them for less on Amazon, an increasingly prevalent process known as “showrooming.”

It’s not all about Amazon, though. Target will also match prices from rival retailers like Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart — though none of those stores come close to the threat posed by Amazon.

But will it work? Probably not, and for one main reason: Price-matching requires too much effort, and most consumers are unlikely to even bother doing the homework required to take advantage of it.

Even Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel has downplayed the utility of price matching for consumers. “We don’t see a lot of price match activity in our stores,” he said in November.

If Target is really serious about year-round price-matching, it should make the process as frictionless as possible. “Price-matching” may sound good on paper, but Target has a long way to go before it rewires consumers’ brains to think of it, not Amazon, as the lowest price guarantor.


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