Last week I wrote about ways that shops trick people into spending more than they planned, but are the tides turning as people use showrooming to trick them out of a sale?
When was the last time you went "showrooming"?
Showrooming is where you walk into a shop, check out the product that you're planning on buying, then walk out and buy it cheaper online. It was probably responsible for the demise of companies like Jessops and HMV, which sell goods at a higher price than their online competitor Amazon.
So is showrooming immoral?
In my opinion, showrooming is just another form of shopping around. People used to do it before the internet became popular, back when places like Argos were a cheaper rival to many other businesses. I would however say that you're taking the mick when you take up half an hour of an employee's time picking their brain about the product, before picking up your smartphone and ordering online!
People say that showrooming hurts a lot of small businesses. I can see how that might be the case, but small shops are more likely to have interesting little things that you can't find elsewhere (which is how they compete with bigger brands in the first place!). Small companies should use their unique angle to keep customers coming back.
Larger shops will be happy to have more customers coming through their doors. They know that the longer they can keep you in there, the more likely you are to spend. Best Buy, a shop in the US that was floundering because of showrooming, has now introduced a price match guarantee with Amazon.com. This sounds counter-intuitive, but the impression of being a good value company has led to a increase in sales.
What does the future hold?
In Australia a celiac food shop has decided to charge $5 for looking at their merchandise, which is refunded if you buy something. How on Earth does this company expect to encourage people in with that attitude? The future depends on shops accepting that people have access to price comparison data and finding new ways to do business.
Even if a small shop cannot compete with Best Buy's price match guarantees, they can excel at things like customer service. If a shop assistant has been helpful in making a decision, people are more likely to buy from them. Introducing a loyalty card with rewards would be another way to keep people coming back. Sales allow shops to rival online prices, keeping customers in the store longer to entice them with the higher priced stock.
The future of large electrical items is online. The amount you can save is phenomenal, plus you don't have to try and cart a huge television home in the back of a Mini. We might even see real showrooms of electrical goods on the high street, with QR codes allowing you to purchase them online.
Like it or not, showrooming is here to stay. Businesses need to evolve.
Do you think showrooming is acceptable? What sorts of items would you scope out in store then buy online?