Online stores are increasingly making it more difficult for customers to price compare. In order to make it impossible to shop around, designers often make slight variations of the same product. These product varieties are even more important in online retailing where a customer can shop hundreds of stores at one time.
In honor of the holiday sale season, we searched out a item that is ubiquitous throughout the retail scene. We consider this item our contrail. (Yes, we are getting scientific today.) 3.1 Phillip Lim’s $1100 ‘Totes Amaze’ bag can be found on more than a dozen online retailers. Now that sale season has started, however, the price ranges from $440 all the way up to the original retail price.
As of December 22, the retailer, Nordsrom is offering the tote for the least amount of money, at $339.98. International site, Ssense is just two cents more $440. ShopBop and Neiman Marcus tie for most expensive retailer with a markdown price of $770, or just 30% off. Our experiment was to see which retailers would honor Nordstrom’s price with the least amount of hassle. Just for good measure we asked all the stores if they’d match Ssence’s price too.
Since it’s the week of Christmas, we also got a great indication for retailers’ customer service abilities. Our findings were that larger companies answered calls relatively quickly but not all e-tailers were keen at price matching. Although Shopbop offered the highest pricing, the site promptly offered to adjust the cost to meet the deal offered by Nordsrom. Neiman Marcus also promptly answered our call but politely declined to match Ssense’s price because ‘it is an international site’ but did offer to match Nordstrom.
Saks Fifth Avenue also offered to match the price given by Nordstrom but we would first have to pay full price and then wait 10 days for a supervisor to authorize a credit for the difference. It feels unsettling that the operator at Saks was unable to guarantee the price adjustment. We would suggest skipping this policy as it can easily put a gift giver in a precarious situation if the price were not adjusted as anticipated. On the other extreme, Net-A-Porte makes it a flat policy not to price match.
Even though Scoop and Ssense both offered competitive pricing both retailers did not reasonably answer calls. We disconnected the call with Ssense after more than five minutes on hold and Scoop didn’t even have an operator answering phones. Callers were asked to leave a message and wait for a return call. None of those scenarios are comforting to a pressured and stressed shopper.
Below is the raw data to our Totes Amaze shopping experiment. We removed many of the stores that carry the bag on Far Fetch, because of the large assortment of variances that apply to working with a small independent international stores. We would love to hear about your holiday shopping experiences in the comment section below. Have you found retailers to be naughty or nice?
|Site||Price||Time on Hold||Answer|
|Shopbop||$770||>1min||Will honor the Nordstrom price|
|Ssense||$440||<5min p="">5min>||No answer|
|Net-a-Porter||$550||>1min||It’s our policy not to price match.|
|Neiman Marcus||$770||>1min||Will not price match Ssense but was transferred to a supervisor would price match with Nordstrom|
|Nordstrom||$439||>1min||Ssense is international website and we can’t price match.|
|Saks Fifth Avenue||$660||3min||We would have to pay full price now and would later be credited the difference pending manager approval.|
|Scoop||$576||>1min||No operators. Only voice mail.|