December 10, 2016
I ran into the book that was the basis for the new movie Arrival the other day at Target. I am planning to buy the book because it looks like an interesting read and I was just shopping around to see what the pricing on the paper version of the book. Here's what I found...
Amazon is not the cheapest. Without discounts, Amazon matches Target's pricing at $11. With an Amazon Rewards Visa, there's a 3% discount bringing the price of the book to $10.67.
Target is cheaper with the REDcard, but not by much. With the REDcard's 5% discount, the $11 book's discounted price is $10.45 (2%). The benefit with Target is that I can "click and collect" if I want the book right away. I order online, I wait while they get the book ready for pick-up (usually less than an hour, but definitely in two-hours) and I drive (or walk) over to the store which is less than a quarter mile away to pick up the book. Is it as convenient as clicking and sitting on the couch waiting for a delivery? Probably not for everyone. But since the family shops at Target, this is a nice way to get something "right away" without much of a hassle.
Barnes and Noble is a mess. The price they offer the book at online is more expensive than both Amazon and Target. Granted the difference is only 1% more than the non-discounted Amazon and Target prices. With discounts, the difference is 4% and 6% more expensive than Amazon and Target respectively. There's no discount offered for online purchases. But, that is not what is confusing. I am not sure why in this day and age where most retailers (Target, Fry's, Best Buy, Norstrom, Apple, etc) have the same prices online as in-store, that Barnes and Noble can't do the same. If I wanted to buy this book in-store? It's the full retail cover price of $16. This price is hidden in the "reserve in store" link:
Barnes and Noble needs to better integrate their online and in-store shopping experience. This is not a great shopping experience for customers. Especially if a customer looks up a book online finds the online price and decides to go into a store to purchase the book, only to be surprised by the stark increase in price.
Using a Barnes and Noble membership when making a purchase in-store gets a 10% discount off the retail price of the book, bringing the price down to $14.40. That is still more expensive than Amazon and Target. Also, in order to get that 10% discount, the Barnes and Noble membership itself is $25 per year -- in comparison to the Amazon Rewards Card and Target REDcard are both free (though they both offer less of a discount).
I tweeted Barnes and Noble about the pricing discrepancy and they replied with a link to their website about the pricing differences. It reads:
About BN.com and Barnes & Noble Retail Store Price Differences
Barnes & Noble usually is able to fill your order from our website with less expense than our full-service retail stores, and we pass those savings on to our online customers. This is why our prices online sometimes are lower than you will find in your local Barnes & Noble store. Similarly at times, your local store may offer exclusive promotions that are not offered on our website.
It is disappointing that while most major retailers have the same pricing online and in-store, Barnes and Noble chooses not to. I like Barnes and Noble, and like having a local bookstore, but they need to change to stay competitive.