Price Matching at Barnes and Noble

Yesterday, I had a great Barnes and Noble experience, in Birmingham, as they are now letting customers get the BN.com price, in the store, and I want to share.

I needed a copy of Mark Larabee’s Pacific Crest Trail book (which is a beautiful book, by the way). I called my indie shop down the street and they didn’t have a copy.

I went to BN.com and saw that the book was $36 (which matched other online retailers) compared to the $50 in-store price. That’s a great discount. I was also able to see that a local Barnes and Noble store had it in stock.

Then I remembered a little birdie telling me that B&N is running a price matching program for B&N Members. I am not sure why they aren’t trumpeting this.

I walked in a local Barnes and Noble and asked the manager about it. She confirmed that it is real and then shared some of her thoughts about it. I would say she was neither plussed nor upset about the practice, just that…

“…customers have been confused by the different prices in store and online and have been asking for this for a long, long time”.

I thought that a pretty fair assessment.

All I had to do was go up, give them my B&N Membership number and the cashier showed me the special “compare to current BN.com price” button, on the register. It took all of 2 seconds and I checked out with the lower online price + tax. The cashier said that if you always ask for the comparison (again after your member # has been entered) the system will give you the lowest price possible. So if your member discount drops the in-store price lower than the online price, you’ll still come out ahead.

This is exactly the kind of customer-focused thinking Barnes and Noble needs to be doing.

  1. I was able to research prices and availability online
  2. I could have even reserved a copy online
  3. I was able to go to a local store, pay local taxes, and get the lowest price Barnes and Noble was offering, online or off.
  4. I had my book immediately (which even beats free 2 day delivery)

Hopefully, more customers will use this price-matching program. It leverages the best pieces B&N has access to, and will keep them  relevant and front-of-mind for local readers. These kinds of services can help them win in a way that all their past experiments, with in-store restaurants and bars, just can’t do.