A recent survey showed that 70 percent of all consumers who come to brick and mortar stores to shop will use their mobile devices to check prices and often purchase from online retailers.
This is practice is known as “showrooming,” which the Oxford English Dictionary has named its third most popular term of 2013.
With money tighter for many, and a high tech method of old fashioned comparison shopping available, consumers say they would be foolish not to showroom.
“I’ll go to a showroom, drive a different couple of options and then price it online,” said E.J. D’Ettore of Wolcott, who would not divulge where he shops for cars.
Retailers are doing their best to improve the in store experience.
“Target has beauty concierges. So, if you go there for beauty products, hopefully you’ll feel you’re treated so well that you’ll feel guilty if you take out your phone and look for a better deal online somewhere,” said Steve Wolfberg of Cronin and Company, a marketing communications firm in Glastonbury.
Customer service and experience are two of the best attributes a local retailer can possess in combating showrooming. Pfau’s Hardware, a West Hartford staple since the 1940s, has seen its share of showroomers.
“We’ve had some brazen people that will actually get on the phone and call another store while they’re in our store,” said Russell Hunter, Owner of Pfau’s Hardware.
So what do you do, if you’re a retailer and somebody is in your store on their mobile device, clearly price checking? Hunter had simple advice.
“Tell them that before they buy online, double check with me. Double check our price. But, make sure you’re getting the same item. There are a lot of items out there that are similar,” added Hunter.
If you’re buying appliances online, beware with an offer of free shipping.
“A lot of the online retailers will basically just drop it off at your curb and you have to pay additional if you want them to actually bring it in to your home,” said Dan Saunders, of SK Lavery Appliance Company in West Hartford.
In addition, a new iPhone app, called The Find, scans in-store bar codes to locate the best prices on a particular product at both nearby stores and online.