November 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

With Christmas in sight, Target aims to match the online prices of Amazon and other web rivals

With Christmas in sight, Target aims to match the online prices of Amazon and other web rivals.

Kevin Woodward

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

As Target Corp. executives said earlier this year, they're not going to take it anymore. That is, they won't let major online retailers woo away its in-store customers with lower online prices.

Target is promising to match prices of qualifying items in its more than 1,700 stores to prices on Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and ToysRUs.com. The price-match policy runs through Dec. 16. Target stores will also match Target.com prices through Dec. 24.

Lauren Freedman, president of retail consultancy The E-tailing Group Inc., says the policy is a smart move, particularly because it covers the retailer's top competitors and categories. "All key categories are covered, and toys and electronics are given added exposure through all of these players," she says.

Target isn't alone in matching prices. Best Buy Co. for the first time will let store employees at their discretion match rivals' online prices through Dec. 24.

These retail chains aim to get a bigger share of the $54.47 billion research firm eMarketer projects U.S. shoppers will spend this holiday season, which would be a 16.8% increase from $46.63 billion last year. And price matters: while consumers cited convenience as the main reason they'll shop more on the web this year, 29.6% also pointed to being able to compare prices online.

Target also is acknowledging that consumers use their smartphones to shop. It plans to launch a campaign on Nov. 7 that includes quick response, or QR, two-dimensional bar codes in TV ads, bus shelter ads and catalog pages. Consumers can use an app on their smartphones to scan the code, which opens a mobile commerce site. Target also is placing QR codes inside its stores near top-selling toys and its shoe department. Consumers scanning the QR code in the toy department can purchase 20 best-selling toys using their phones and ship them free in the United States.

In addition, Target is making Wi-Fi available in all its stores in time for holiday shopping. Rather than rely on occasionally erratic cellular signals, the Wi-Fi connection will offer a more reliable connection to the Internet, Target says.

kevin@verticalwebmedia.com

@KevinWoodwardIR

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