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Forty-Niner Shops Plays Defense with Price Match Guarantee

Posted by Stephanie Kubas on 9/9/12 11:00 PM
Topics: college store stories, textbook affordability, price comparison, fighting competition

There’s no doubt that students are savvy shoppers. In fact, comparing textbook prices has become an increasingly standard practice and the most proactive college stores have responded with more competitive pricing. Taking that commitment to transparency even further, Forty-Niner Shops, Inc., is now offering price matching during rush this fall.

“We really want to change student perception of the store,” explained Brian Fetterman, book division manager. “It’s a simple way for us to eliminate the stereotype that the bookstore is the ‘bad guy’ and reinforce goodwill with both our students and faculty.”

The store’s Price Match program encourages their customers to shop around for their books, guaranteeing that, if they find the same book for sale or for rent from another bookstore or website at a lower price, then they will match it.

“Students simply have to bring in printed verification of the lower price and the original register receipt within three days of purchase,” he described. “The books must have the same ISBN, edition and condition, and be from a direct-to-student seller, rather than a marketplace. We’ll even price match on rentals as long as they are for the same time period.”

The store once offered a similar price matching option several years ago, however, they have since updated their practice to make it even more seamless for students.

“In the past, our customers would have to submit their price match for approval, which ultimately created too lengthy of a process,” Fetterman said. “Now, we’ve eliminated that step and it’s virtually instant.”

Although some stores may worry that they’d lose significant margin from going up against big sellers such as Amazon, Fetterman says that’s not an issue at his store, because of their dynamic pricing practices.

“My prices are very competitive, and I made sure of that by marketplace pricing our titles before we even got started,” he said. “That way, I know there will be less of a need to match other sellers and the program won’t have such a large impact.”

Despite the fact that they’ve only just started the program, Fetterman says the positive results are already evident.

“So far, we’ve seen a real pickup in both online sales and in-store traffic, as a result of price matching and our competitive prices,” he described. “For instance, this year we saw 1200 orders in one day compared to the same day last year when we only had 400; I’ve been very pleased.”

As with any new promotion, however, the store expected to face a few challenges along the way.

“This is a major change for us and anytime you do something new there’s an adjustment period,” Fetterman added. “We’re still ironing out a few kinks to perfect the process with our cashiers.”

Despite a few bumps in the road, Fetterman and the staff of Forty-Niner Shops, Inc., believe that their Price Match Guarantee will provide countless benefits.

“I know that it will be a big positive for our store and help secure more trust with our students,” he said. “Even if we suffer a slight loss in margin, we’ll make up for it with increased customer confidence; that’s one metric that’s invaluable in the long run.”

Check out one of the many ways the store promotes their Price Match Guarantee program here! Then, tell us, does your store offer price matching? What results have you seen with the program? Let us know in the comments section!

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