ADI's Price Match Guarantee Compared

By Brian Rhodes, Published Aug 01, 2014, 12:00am EDT

Few policies are more powerful than "price matching."

If a buyer sees a good deal elsewhere, they have no reason to stray away; just show the competitor price and get it then and there.

Brick and mortar retailers like ADI are under attack from online only providers and the dreaded 'showrooming' effect where a customer checks it out at a store, but buys it cheaper online.

To combat this, ADI has a 'Price Assurance' policy but what's the fine print? Is this attractive to buyers?

In this note we examine ADI's fine print, share feedback on what Anixter, Tri-Ed and ScanSource do, and compare what is the most attractive option.

The Policy

On the main public page, ADI displays their "Price Assurance [link no longer available]" prominently:

Clicking on the link brings up the fine print of the policy, that claims "We will meet any distributor's current promotional pricing" with the power claim being it applies to 'any distributor' and will match 'current pricing'.

For ADI's customers, this policy could not only save money off the cost of products, but they potentially save money on efficiencies gained by purchasing all products from a single supplier. With policies like these, price shopping distributors can be a valuable exercise indeed. 

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The Fine Print Kills This

However, the specific language or 'fine print' details of the offer can dramatically change the practicality, and this offer is no exception:

  • "The offer is limited to the month in which this flyer is mailed by ADI and is valid for non-special order in stock products."

This limits the policy to only current, featured promotional pricing by a competing distributor. This simply does not extend to normal stocking items, only those ADI's competitors feature in marketing materials for the month.  Price matching? Sure, but only on a small selection of items that both the competition and ADI both carry in stocking inventory.

  • "We reserve the right to exclude significantly below cost competition loss leader pricing."

Tucked into the last few sentences is this clause, that essentially torpedos any clear cut case where this policy applies and turns it into a judgement call. That killer promo deal from a competing vendor? If ADI determines that it is just too cheap, they can pass.  

In fairness, even given the potential loopholes in this policy, it is not worded much differently that similar 'price matching' policies found elsewhere, even in 'big box' retail

Rival Distributors

We called other national security distributors to see what 'matching' policies they honor. Here's a rundown:

  • Anixter: The rep we spoke with said any price matching is considered on a 'case by case' basis, factoring the business value of the account, purchase history, and taking individual products on the order into account. Anixter has no blanket 'price match' policy.
  • Tri/Ed Northern: The rep said they will match the prices of other Tri/Edbranches, but do not generally match competitor's prices.
  • ScanSource: Account Managers have some authority to adjust pricing, but any adjustments are done individually and may not be offered.
However, the most aggressive price matching is found with smaller, independent, or internet-based distributors. Many claim to offer '110% match' guarantees that beat low prices by an additional 10%:
  • Example 1: This internet-only distributor keeps the policy short and to the point, with the only public condition for issuing price-matching credits being that it comes for an 'authorized distributor':

  • Example 2: Another 'distributor' (that also sells to the public) offers price matching for 'qualifying product' with no elaboration on what products are eligible:

  • Example 3: The final offer includes the most restrictions, but also firmly establishes eligibility, excluding certain brands and mandating the items are NOT promotional - in contrast to ADI's policy:

Especially in the case of internet based distributors, with no 'brick & mortar' location overhead and dubious stocking inventory of featured products, there is little risk in offering 'better than cost' price matching guarantees.


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