Target changed its app after an investigation found prices went up for shoppers using it in stores - but it hasn't changed the practice
AP Photo/John Minchillo
- The prices listed in Target's app change based on whether a customer is inside one of the company's stores, an investigation by Minneapolis NBC affiliate KARE11 found.
- Business Insider confirmed the price fluctuations in its own test.
- In response, Target made an update to its app that specifies how the prices are determined.
- Other large retailers, including Best Buy and Walmart, don't appear to change prices like Target does, KARE11 reported.
Target shoppers using the retailer's app aren't always getting the best deal.
An investigation by KARE11 news, an NBC affiliate in Minneapolis, Minnesota, found that prices varied in Target's app based on whether a customer was inside or outside of a Target store. Business Insider confirmed the practice in its own test.
The app uses geo-fencing and location data to make the determination of where a customer is. When in the store, all prices listed in the app resemble the prices listed in the store. Outside of the store is a different story. That is where Target must compete with other online stores and the rest of the world, and the prices there mimic those of Target.com.
Comparing prices for more than 20 items on the app when inside and outside the store, Business Insider found the price changed on nearly half of them. In almost all cases, the prices were higher when we checked the price on the app while inside the store.
Price changes ranged from $0.10 to more than $7, but most were less than a dollar. The largest gap was on a Fisher-Price children's toy, the price of which fell by $7.49 after we left the store.
In a statement to Business Insider, a Target representative did not say that the company would bring parity to its online prices and in-store prices, but that it's "committed to providing value to our guests and that includes being priced competitively online and in our stores, and as a result, pricing and promotions may vary."
"We appreciate the feedback we recently received on our approach to pricing within the Target app. The app is designed to help guests plan, shop and save whether they are shopping in store or on the go," the statement continued.
Target has also said it released an update to make pricing clearer in-app.
"We've made a number of changes within our app to make it easier to understand pricing and our price match policy. Each product will now include a tag that indicates if the price is valid in store or at Target.com," a Target spokesman said. "In addition, every page that features a product and price will also directly link to our price match policy."
Target also reiterated its price-match policy, which customers can take advantage of anytime and anywhere. The policy also applies to goods that Target sells both online and in stores.
KARE11 repeated its experiment at Walmart, Macy's, and Best Buy and did not find any pricing differences.
Here's the full breakdown of Business Insider's comparison of prices on the app in store and outside of a Target store:
Bounty Essentials paper towels (six-pack): $0.30 more in stores
Cheerios (20 oz.): no change
Vizio 43-inch TV: no change
Fisher-Price young child's toy: $7.50 more in stores
Fieldcrest pillow: no change
Scott toilet paper (24 rolls): $0.20 more in stores
Hamilton Beach toaster: $1 more in stores
Instant pot (8 quart): no change
Sunbeam microwave: no change
Red Pack crushed tomatoes (28 oz.): $0.13 more in stores
"I Need a New Butt!" children's book: no change
Listerine (1 liter): $0.20 less in stores
Spatula: no change
Shark vacuum: no change
Q-tip cotton swabs: $0.10 more in stores
Graco car seat: no change
X-Doria Apple Watch band: no change
Cheez-Its: no change
Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner: $0.10 more in stores
Dyson cordless vacuum: no change
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