Retailers Fight Showrooming

Arsenal includes basic strategies and social media

Looking specifically at showrooming, a recent ClickIQ survey found that 46 percent of online shoppers used smartphones and other means to research products while in a store, only to ultimately buy online. Likewise, Foresee surveys conducted between 2009 and 2011 found that the number of smartphone users accessing competitive websites while in a store jumped from 25 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2011. On the positive side, 65 percent of those shoppers reported accessing the website of the store they were shopping in, up from 52 percent in 2009.

Taking a broader view, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 25 percent of U.S. mobile phone users (46 percent of which own smartphones) used their phones over the 2011 holidays to look for a better deal while shopping in a store, while 38 percent called a friend for advice and 24 percent checked online product reviews. The trend is not all negative. The Pew survey further revealed that 35 percent of those shoppers ultimately bought from the store they were in compared with 19 percent who bought the product online and 8 percent who bought the item at another store.

Brick and Mortar Responds
Retailers are responding to “showrooming” in a variety of ways, ranging from matching online prices to stressing services you can’t get online to using social media to nurture and reward loyal customers.

“The impact on our business is exponential,” said Debbie Schaeffer, owner of Mrs. G TV & Appliance, which has been operating in Lawrenceville, N.J., for more than half a century. She estimates that online price-comparison shopping results in a loss in revenue of about 10 percent, but she is quick to point out that pricing is not the main problem. “We feel we can compete on price and more and more manufacturers are now policing MAP policies online,” she said. “The challenge is when consumers feel they don’t need to pay New Jersey sales tax. It puts us at a 7-percent disadvantage. It’s very unfair.”

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  • Ray Windsor

    Adding value is the solution to the showrooming problem. For more see the UltraSphere news letter April 2012.

    Certainly all business people should be encouraging their legislators that all sales (in the smartphone age) be treated equally under sales tax and consumer protection laws in equal fashion regardless of the place where the sale takes place (interesting laws addressing credit card sales too), how and where the consumer receives the goods and/or where those goods are shipped from.

    Regarding Mr. Pearlman’s contention that retailers will move to "Internet only and store only" items, requires the manufacturers to agree and then provide "derivitive" model numbers. In 1980 that worked OK (sort of) for a short while. In the smart phone age where information travels the globe instantly does Mr. Pearlman believe that the "derivitive" models will fool consumers for more than a few minutes? If not, it must then follow that manufacturers will create completely different products for the different channels. If the brick & mortar (store only) model becomes popular, will Mr. Perlman feel comfortable relying on the manufacturer to refrain from filling the order when Adorama puts pressure on the manufacturer? I think Mr. Pearlman’s contention "that is how it will shake out" is a hope, a desperate hope, but not likely to manifest in any predictable or long lasting reality.

    Brick & Mortar guys gotta add value and select & support business partners (suppliers) who understand, respect and deliver ROI on their added value activities.

    The Internet is not evil. It will become more important to consumers. Therefore it will become more important to retailers and manufacturers. How manufacturers act in this smartphone age should dictate how retailers act.

    Ray Windsor
    German Maestro

    PS: sign up for the UltraSphere monthly one page news letter by requesting a subscription from

  • Ron Romero

    I was asked last month to attend a "fly In" in Washington DC. I was hosted by the Mainstreet Fairness, they represent both big box & independant retailers. I met personally one on one with Senators & Congressmen. There is confusion, many think that this is a tax increase, and it is not. It is just implementing a way to collect the sales tax that is due to the states and municipalities. People today are required to pay this tax, if not collected by the online merchant, then they are suppose to file with their state a USE TAX. (but how many actually do) There is technology today that can do this. None of these politicians want to see a raise in taxes, but after explaining this, they had a better idea (go figure). There is big interest in this from both Democrats & Republicans. When meeting with the Small Business Association, they felt that the small internet retailer should get a break on the internet because they were small (go figure again) Bottom line is that we should all be communicating to our Congressmen & Senators on this important issue. We were told that this could come to vote, yet this year, even though it is an election year. They would probably attach this bill to another, to expidite it. WE HAVE ALOT OF POWER TO MAKE THIS HAPPEN, CONTACT YOUR REPRESENATIVES NOW. (you can find their information on the internet, just google your State Senators & Congressmen) If we all band together we can make this happen. Thanks for reading this! Ron Romero President, Schaefer’s, Lincoln Ne, & President of Nationwide West Merchanidising Group.

  • jeffoheir

    Ron: Thanks for the comment. For those who aren’t familiar with the organization, its full name is the Alliance for MainStreet Fairness (, @StandWithMainSt). It’s a coalition of business owners (including big-box and independent retailers) and citizens who want to bring sales tax laws up-to-date and level the playing field so all businesses can compete fairly. If you’re following the Internet tax issues on Twitter, some good hash tags are #MainStreet. #efairness #salestax