30 Percent Off in 30 Seconds

by Chuck Martin on August 7, 2011

We recently dropped in to a Foot Locker at a mall to pick up some socks.

We selected the package and I pulled out my smartphone, opened one of my barcode reader apps (in this case, ShopSavvy) and scanned the barcode. Sure enough, the same socks were available at Nordstrom at a lower price. Ten seconds.

We showed the sales clerk the lower price on the phone screen and asked her if they price-matched other stores. She didn’t know and needed to ask the manager. Five seconds.

The manager looked at the Nordstrom price on the phone and the price on his packaging and after a brief discussion said they’d match the price. Fifteen seconds.

The entire process, from time of scanning the product to receiving the discount was about 30 seconds. Not sure why, but the price difference of the Nike socks at Foot Locker vs. Nordstrom was about 30 percent.

So it took 30 seconds to receive a 30 percent discount. No cutting coupons, no elaborate searching, just a quick barcode scan and brief discussion with the manager.

We did have to make somewhat of an educational argument to show the manager the logic of matching the price, since were right there and ready to buy and that we could just as easily go to another store for a lower price.

While not an expensive transaction, it took only half a minute to receive a third off the price.

A few days earlier, we were at Best Buy to purchase a 27-inch Samsung monitor, which the store was selling for $400. A quick barcode scan showed that Amazon had the same monitor for $370. (The Walmart price was $429, so the Best Buy price seemed quite reasonable.)

Same process at Foot Locker: sales clerk has no idea if they can match the price, finds a manager, Amazon  price matched. That process took around a minute, to save $30 on the purchase. (That’s $1,800 an hour if you could do it every minute).

A few key points about barcode scanning at retail from our little shopping exercise:

  •  You could receive large percentage discounts on low-priced items.
  •  You can receive large dollar discounts on high-priced items.
  •  Most importantly, it is the consumer who will be re-training many sales clerks and managers at retail as they scan products on their smartphones and request discounts.

The value of scanning barcodes at retail is going to increase as more consumers become aware of the potential savings in real time.

Meanwhile, more and more companies that offer various products, service and rewards will introduce apps and various incentives for people to scan barcodes in stores.

This is behavioral change at the consumer, retail and provider level and it is huge.

The mobile revolution at retail is being led by the consumer and not necessarily by the retailers. This one is bottom up, one scan at a time.

And those shoppers who do not scan items can continue to pay full retail, to help subsidize those who do.

Do you scan?





Chuck Martin is author of The Third Screen; Marketing to Your Customers in a World Gone Mobile, The Smartphone Handbook, CEO of Mobile Future Institute, Director of the Center for Media Research at MediaPost Communications and a highly sought-after mobile marketing speaker.


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