TJ Maxx sold $399 iPads at a loss. Good marketing, unhappy Apple?

We got word yesterday that TJ Maxx has been selling iPads for $399 ($350 if you apply for their credit card). That left a lot of us wondering how they were able to do this when authorized retailers such as Walmart, Best Buy, and Target are all stuck selling them at $499 and up.

From what we hear, it seems their supply was extremely limited to begin with - around 80 iPads, or $40,000 for those of you keeping track. That breaks down to them selling them for $32,000 total. For only an $8,000 loss, it's an excellent marketing strategy. A TJ Maxx spokesperson had this to say -

"We have received many inquiries about a particular famous maker high tech item recently sold in our stores. As an off-price retailer, our business provides an ever-changing selection of great finds of famous maker apparel and non-apparel categories at excellent values. In other words, our mission is to offer a treasure hunt of great values, every day. Earlier this week, a small number of T.J.Maxx and Marshalls stores received a very limited quantity of first quality electronic tablets that were sourced from a retailer. Our customers have come to know and shop us for the exciting and unexpected values we offer on a daily basis."

While customers may be happy, Apple certainly isn't. I hope TJ Maxx doesn't ever plan on wanting to become an Apple authorized retailer.


[via [CNNMoney]

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Allyson Kazmucha

Senior editor for iMore. I can take apart an iPhone in less than 6 minutes. I also like coffee and Harry Potter more than anyone really should.

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Reader comments

TJ Maxx sold $399 iPads at a loss. Good marketing, unhappy Apple?


I think it was more about publicity for tj MAxx then selling ipads. With so few of them and selling at a lower price, they just want to get people into there stores and people talking about there stores. Creative marketing

It definitely is a brilliant marketing strategy. My company pays $10,000+ to exhibit at trade shows to reach 100 or so prospective customers. TJ Maxx got ridiculous publicity and advertising all over the country for $8,000.
If Steve Jobs wants to get upset about it, that's his problem. TJ Maxx has every right to buy a product through legitimate channels and sell it for a loss. It's their choice. Let's face it, it's not like they were ever going to become an authorized reseller for Apple products anyway.

An 8k loss is unlikely - it is based on the retail price of $499 and would mean other retailers dont make any profit either which is unlikely. We can't work out the profit/loss without knowing the wholesale cost. If apple charge 399 then this cost them nothing at all.

I suspect Apple is deleriously happy about this - it serves only to underscore demand for their product, reinforces perceptions as a holiday "must-have," and gives them tons of free advertising on news outlets. Plus, they received the full retail price, even if TJ Maxx is not. It's all good for Apple.

@Kris Lord
The article suggests TJ Maxx purchased them at retail stores and not from Apple's supply chain...

Now that I go back and read that, Joe McG is right. "T.J.Maxx and Marshalls stores received a very limited quantity of first quality electronic tablets that were sourced from a retailer."
Sourced from a retailer. Quite possibly for $499 each.

Not to worry Ally: it doesn't matter if T.J. Maxx wants to become an official Apple retailer. Not going to happen.

While I love Tipb, the following line is irresponsible at best: "While customers may be happy, Apple certainly isn’t. "
I have not seen anywhere where Apple has voiced an opinion on the matter. So why assume the negative?

Yeah but it needs to be written as speculation, not as some type of fact. Just because this is a blog, it doesn't excuse presenting opinion as fact. Throw in the word probably and all is well.

I agree that Apple is likely very happy.
TJ Maxx got what they wanted, publicity! They don't even care that after-the-fact everyone realizes it was just a stunt; 80 units for a whole chain? I bet a ton of people went to there local store trying to find out if they could get an iPad.
Apple, on the other hand, had the level of the iPad's desirability raised just before the holiday season. Who could be mad about that?

Apple doesn't care they already earned full price for those goods. You can buy a crap ton of them and sell them out the back of your car and theres nothing they can do. Apple only cares to the extent that it strains their relationship with their authorized sellers. They rather you come to them directly that's just their way.