Shoppers in London, Ontario are in for a surprise as No Frills once again changes their Price Matching policy as of Friday October 23, 2015. A few months ago, No Frills made the move to stop price matching drug stores that sell competing products. Even on their own PC brand featured at Shoppers Drug Marts. Now, an insider revealed to me last night while I was price matching that as of Friday, they will no longer be price matching anything at all. Word is, head office has handed down the directive to conduct a pilot project in lovely London Ontario.
London, Ontario has always been a consumer testing hub. We have such a diverse population, so we are considered to be an “ideal test market” for the rest of the country. Everything from debit cards, tea bags, McDonald’s Nugget’s to Tim Horton’s new dark roast coffee can all thank London, Ontario residents.
If you look at the employment pie-chart for London, there’s a healthy mix across major industry sectors such as manufacturing, education services, health care, technology and finance,” says Kapil Lakhotia, president and chief executive officer of London Economic Development Corp. “That makes it interesting to test new products and technologies here.
We have witnessed a massive swing in the retail markets over the past couple of years starting with the exodus of Target followed by Future Shop, Blacks and other retailers seeking shelter from Canada’s chilly consumer retail climate. It looks like London is once again being the guinea pig for an even bigger move. We have seen retailers like Food Basics jump on the price matching bandwagon after seeing a steady decline in sales by consumers who want to get the best prices possible all at one store. After all, why pay more than you have to? Grocery stores have felt a hit in business thanks to conglomerate giant Walmart rolling out the superstores in urban areas encroaching into the grocery domains. This recent No Price Matching pilot project could very well push all price matching shoppers to No Frills competitors.
While other stores change their price matching policies in effort to keep customers from flocking to super centers for one stop shopping, No Frills is choosing to do the opposite in London, Ontario. Could No Frills change in price matching policy be yet another sign of retailers battering down the hatches in the recession that no one wants to publicly acknowledge exists especially during election season?
Curious, I called No Frills corporate public relations office to clarify the London Price Matching Policy:
I was told that the London Pilot project is a pro-active movement that will automatically match shelf prices to locally advertised prices by competitive and private label comparable brands in the immediate geographical trade area.
The “*Won’t Be Beat” guarantee is being replaced with a “We Price Match for You” guarantee.
If any major competitor flyer has a lower price for any identical product No Frills will proactively change shelf price to match lowest flyer price. Automatically.
Why are they doing this?
The internal memo which is not being released to the public, notes that only 3 % of all transactions involve price matching however, it can greatly effect the customer experience and speed in which customers can check out. No Frills states that they take pride in their flyer and low price guarantee and that they know what having great prices means to their consumers.
The new “We price match for you, flyer to flyer” guarantee claims to automatically lower shelf prices in No Frills locations if competitors advertised sale prices are lower than in store prices. No Frills claims No price matching by customers will be required.
It was clear in focus groups that were recently conducted that consumer trust in their prices is very important and in keeping to their commitment of low prices they are taking the opportunity to further reduce the prices on approximately 1/4 of their in store items.
No Frills believes this policy change will benefit the majority of No Frills customers as they will be lowering the regular prices of over 3,000 items in stores starting October 20th, 2015. Price Matching will effectively end October 23, 2015.
I’m not entirely certain how they will be able to keep up with the ever-changing sale prices of competing stores sale prices and still stay competitive. It may just force that 3% of consumers to flock to retailers who welcome Price Matching.
This seems like a drastic measure to take for the inconvenience caused to the “majority of other shoppers” by the 3% of transactions that actually involve price matching transactions. No Frills, along with other retailers, could consider an exclusive Price Matching and Coupon shopping lane instead. This, would be a change both regular shoppers and frugal shoppers could both appreciate.
Many people who price match or use coupons do so because they have to. Job losses and tight family budgets mean families need to be smart shoppers to make the most of their grocery budgets. If transportation is an issue for you, it limits what stores you have access to to shop and you could be trapped with no other alternative and a shrinking food budget to feed your family.
We will see how London Ontario reacts to this new policy change. Only time will tell if this pilot project will be rolled out nationwide or discarded like the McDonald’s pizza tested here in the early 1980’s.
Do you actively price match when grocery shopping?
How do you think this will affect your shopping habits?
Checkout this article on the Top 5 FREE Canadian Money Saving & Money Making Shopping Apps and this article: Meet Caddle: Canada’s Newest Money Saving app guaranteed to save you Money!
If you are concerned of have an opinion or question on this new “We Price Match for You” pilot project being tested in London, Ontario, I urge you to contact No Frills customer support either online or by phone
*Lower Food Prices means we provide lower food prices compared to full service grocery stores by reducing our operating costs. We say ‘no’ to extras like: costly displays, expensive fixtures, big advertising budgets, costly overhead, in store meat cutting or baking in store. Look for “won’t be beat” slogan throughout our store and on some of your favourite items so that you don’t forget to simply show us if you find a lower price and we will match it.If a major supermarket competitor within this store’s geographical trade area offers a lower price on any item (whether the item has the above symbol or not) that we carry in our store simply show us an advertisement or receipt and we will sell you that item at the same price. We reserve the right to limit price match quantities to a limit of 4 per item. We will match the competitor’s price only during the effective date of the competitor’s advertisement or within 7 days of the receipt date. We match identical items defined as same brand, item type (in the case of produce, meat and bakery), size and attributes or comparable items in the case of private label. ‘Our major supermarket competitors’, ‘geographical trade areas’, and “comparable items” are determined solely by us and are based on a number of factors which can change from time to time. Excludes ‘spend x get x’; ‘Free’; and discounts obtained through loyalty programs. We reserve the right to limit quantities.The “won’t be beat” program is applicable only to departments owned and operated by the No Frills Franchisee or Franchisor and does not apply to Gas Stations, or Pharmacy and prescriptions as defined under applicable legislation. The “won’t be beat” program does not apply to any other third party operators on our premises such as: Fresh Meat, Fresh Seafood,Fresh Barbecue or Fresh Bakery Counters.