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Fallout over Walmart Price-Matching of Amazon 3P Merchants

After news that Wal-Mart was expanding its Ad Match Guarantee policy effective November 14th, an EcommerceBytes reader was quick to point out the dangers to retailers like Walmart of price-matching items for sale by third-party sellers on online marketplaces.

In discussing why Walmart might have chosen to exclude eBay but include Amazon.com andits third-party merchants, the reader said, “my guess is that it would be too easy to “fake” a listing at a low price, then call walmart to get the lower priced item.”

And in fact, according to a seller on the Amazon discussion boards on Monday, that’s already happening, but with Amazon sellers:

This new Wal-Mart policy sure bit them hard yesterday. A third party seller listed tons of XBox Ones for under a hundred dollars. People were flocking to Walmart for the price matches. A friend told me his cousin was there getting one, I said no way was Wal-mart going to price match a third party. Guess I was wrong, they got one. I guess all the Wal-marts in town sold out of all xbox ones last night as the seller kept relisting them by the hundreds. Of course it was a just launched seller, certainly just a scammer. Amazon finally caught on and deleted all their listings, but I can’t imagine how many units Wal-mart gave away for $60-$100.

Another said, “What is there to stop a 3rd party from listing an item WHILE THEY ARE IN WAL-MART? This is a retail arbitrage nightmare.”

And the “opportunity” to game the Walmart policy was reported on this Facebook thread.

Some sellers feared activity by people trying to take advantage of the Walmart policy by gaming Amazon listings would result in disappointed Amazon buyers (i.e., they go to purchase an item with a low-ball price on Amazon and never receive it or find it comes with a big shipping cost).

Paul Ivanovsky from a site called IHeartTheMart.com wrote about the policy last weekand published the policy and FAQs that employees would be using to make price-matching decisions.

He published a followup post on Monday describing some of the same problems with shoppers’ use of the newly expanded Walmart policy. In a self-described rant, he urged shoppers not to use the policy in ways it wasn’t intended lest Walmart restrict it.

“The biggest problem is coming from people price matching Amazon Deals. There are people trying to and some successfully price matching deals like $1.00 Tide with crazy high shipping costs.”

Ivanovsky said Walmart is not intending to honor “gimmick” pricing, such as an item for one penny with $20 or $30 shipping. “Do the right thing,” he urged his followers.

Comment on the EcommerceBytes Blog.

Update 11/19/14: Have you tried Walmart’s new online price matching policy? Share your stories here.

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.