Showrooming presents challenge for traditional retailers


A trend called “showrooming” can hurt brick and mortar retailers in the age when anyone can comparison shop prices for anything, anywhere, at any time, thanks to smart phones and other mobile devices.

A recent Codex Group survey found that roughly four in 10 book buyers will go to a store and thumb through a book, decide they like it and then buy it cheaper on Amazon, according to what I read in The New York Times. But that trend has dangerous consequences for retailers of all kinds.

I have an app on my smart phone called ShopSavvy (Android or iOS) that allows me to scan a bar code at a store and instantly get a list of retailers both online and local offering the same item for a cheaper price.

Recently on Clark Stinks, I heard from a poster who owned her own retail store. Boy, was she sore with me for being a freeloader. And you know what? She’s right. She has the cost of overhead and paying employees, among other things. She probably can’t compete with a low-overhead retailer.

It’s a very valid point. If I am a bricks-and-mortar store with all the overhead that online sites don’t have, I may be here today. But will there be showrooms in the future, or will they go bust because everybody is showrooming?

For example, Best Buy was expected to be king of the world when Circuit City collapsed. But it didn’t work out that way at all. In fact, Best Buy has had to morph their business to avoid dying a showroomer’s death.

If you own your business, people are showrooming. You need a compelling strategy for your business that when those customers come in, they will buy from you even if your price is higher than the low-overhead online seller.

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