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Bricks vs. Clicks: ShopRunner Takes Aim at Amazon's Lockers

April 25, 2012
ShopRunner is announcing the acquisition of PickupZone today, which will help the company's brick-and-mortar partners go head to head against the Amazons of the world.

Prior to the acquisition, ShopRunner's main emphasis was on providing an alternative to Amazon Prime, by offering a loyalty program that offers free two-day shipping across several big-name retailers.

Now, with the acquisition of Boston-based PickupZone, it is rolling out a way for the retailers to combat one of Amazon's newest programs, called Lockers.

One inherent strength of physical retailers is that they have stores, where users can shop and pick up items

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A customer walks into your store and heads for the TV displays. He’s on a mission and spends the better part of an hour drilling the TV salesman on the pros and cons of a half-dozen big-screen sets, moving from one TV to the next. Eddie doesn’t hide the fact that he’s ready to buy and narrows his search to a 50-inch LCD.

He thanks the salesman for his time, and as he’s walking away pulls out his iPhone and slips into a corner to see if he can find a better price online. Amazon has the lowest price but the model is also on sale and in stock at nearby competitor. Eddie walks out and heads to the store just down the road to buy the TV.

Price shopping has been around as long as retailing but the practice of “showrooming”—a customer checking out products in the store and using his smartphone to search for a better deal, in some cases scanning barcodes—is a relatively new and growing trend that’s making brick-and-mortar retailers nervous.

Smartphone Shopping on the Rise
The mobile Web, and smartphone apps in particular, have transformed shopping, making it easier than ever to gather product information and price shop on the go. “We’re seeing an increase in price-comparison shopping and those apps are getting easier to use,” said Linda Barrabee, NPD’s research director for connected intelligence. Recent NPD data shows that three-quarters of consumers use the mobile web and shopping websites, while just over half (55 percent) use shopping apps like ShopSavvy and Amazon’s PriceCheck, which let them scan barcodes, take pictures, and say or type in product names to get information and find lower prices at local retailers or online.
 
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