Price matching has become one of the less palatable parts of the retail scene lately, as full-service retailers scramble to wrest back sales from the Crazy Charlies of the retailing world.
Here’s the story: the Canon online store (Crazy Canon’s?) is currently conducting a May Stock Clearance (‘Keith, Take advantage of Canon’s Stock Clearance Now!’ shrieks the email blast.) And having a bit of a watching brief on Canon’s retailing endeavours, I had a quick peek at what was on offer. With discounts of over $600 (the Canon 7D Care Pack Kit – body only plus 3-year warranty for $1269, Save $629) I wondered if Canon might be impinging on the pricing of its long-suffering retailing customers.
So I picked a middle-of-the-road offer which might have appeal to entry-level (ie, where the volume is) consumers, a ‘Canon EOS 100D Twin EOS Bag Kit’, consisting of a Canon EOS 100D body, EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM lens, EF-S 55-250mm f4-5.6 IS II lens, and EOS Bag S backpack. All for $989, a saving of $409.
Jumping onto retailers’ sites I noticed that there are some who seem to have taken the option of simply not offering the same kits as Canon to avoid an odious price comparison against their supplier’s online store. Discretion is the better part of valour, as they say.
But I found the same camera and what appeared to be the same two lenses on one retailer’s site at the price of $1099 – $100 up on the Canon Store price, but less the EOS Bag S, which Canon offers on its website for $99. Canon seems to have withheld supply of these branded accessories to its retailing clients, giving its own retailing business an extra advantage.
I also noticed that the retailer’s online store invited consumers to request a price match, so I sent off the link to the Canon offer and waited to see what would happen. Within a day or so an email came back advising me that they would indeed match the Canon price, but not with the bonus bag. (How could they, when Canon appears to withhold supply of the product?) It was also pointed out that the 55-250mm lens from the Canon Store was an older model, without STM.
(Apologies to the internet sales guy for wasting his time.)
So there it is. A specialist retailer is forced to say goodbye to most or all of whatever slim margin it was making on this kit due to lower pricing from its own supplier. For the sake of not losing a customer to that supplier! While Canon Australia only pays landed cost – which already includes a profit margin back to the parent, Canon Japan – and has perhaps twice or three times the margin to play with before it actually loses on a sale, it’s a much tighter equation for its retailing customers.
Now I don’t even know if that is legal – perhaps someone should ask the ACCC – but it certainly isn’t decent, in my opinion. Yet Canon has what one might call the bare-faced cheek to wax lyrical on its website (not the bit which flogs cut-price products, the corporate bit) about ‘Kyosei – Living and working together for the common good’. It bangs on about making the world a better place, sense of responsibility, etc, etc, before concluding with these lines, which will surely resonate – but not in a good way – with the retailers it still permits to stock its products: ‘Of course, actions speak louder than words. We aim to act morally, in accordance with our own code of conduct and our worldwide ethical compliance framework; but more than this, we aim to make a positive difference to all we come into contact with and, through our behaviour, contribute to positive change.’
– It’s certainly true that actions speak louder than words.
And just on that ‘worldwide ethical compliance framework’; it’s worth noting Canon was among the lowest-rated CE companies, scoring a D minus in a report part-funded by the US Department of State and the International Labor Rights Forum on ethical corporate behaviour on a range of labour and environmental measures, sharing that second-from-lowest rating with another noted discounter, Kogan.