showrooming-pic1(Forbes, 2012)

A recent article in AdAge revisits the concept of “showrooming” and its effect on brick and mortar retailers.

For readers unfamiliar with this technologically-driven activity, picture the following scenario. You walk into your neighborhood electronics retailers looking for a new DVR. You see just the one you want and wouldn’t you know it, its on sale! But hang on: before you plunk down your hard-earned cash or piece of plastic, you whip out your trusty mobile device and quickly pull up your Amazon (or other online retailer) app and search for the same DVR. Sure enough, there it is – in stock, brand new, and free 2-day shipping to boot! Oh and one more thing – it’s cheaper than the in-store sale. You turn on your heel and promptly head out the door, on your way to make your online purchase. Maybe you even made it while still in the store!

This is “showrooming” and many experts predicted it would be “the final blow to struggling brick-and-mortar retailers.” (AdAge, 3/19/2014) But in an interesting piece he penned for the magazine, Bill Loller suggests that the opposite is happening. Retailers are getting wise to the trend and trying to “intercept” customers while they are “showrooming.”

Of course, companies can throw lots of technology at the problem – geo-location based marketing, QR codes on physical products, and even old-fashioned price matching, relying on a sales force that is observant and engaged with customers.

Interesting, yes? More clever ways to target and reach (or hold on to) potential customers! The big boxes aren’t giving in without a fight!

Have you “showroomed” lately? Where did you end up making your purchase? What could the brick and mortars do to retain your business? And ultimately, is this a stopgap measure for retailers or a potentially big step back into the fray?

Share your thoughts!