by Dan Ward
The trend toward “showrooming” – where consumers look at products in stores before going online to find a better price – has had a major impact on brands like Best Buy, HHGregg and Sears. Imagine hiring and paying salespeople to work with customers to select the product they want, only to watch those customers break out their cellphones to buy from Amazon or some other provider.
If brands like Best Buy and Sears want to end the practice of showrooming, they can start by competing, rather than encouraging their customers to shop around.
Last week, I went out of my way to NOT showroom. I knew I wanted a small TV for my bedroom, and selected one online that had good ratings and appeared to offer the features I wanted. But before making my purchase, I went to Sears to see the actual product.
Sears had the TV on sale, but it was still cheaper on Amazon. So I grabbed a manager and said, “compete.” His answer: The Sears corporate policy is to only price match local competitors. I told him he didn’t need to price match. I would be glad to give him my business if he would only meet me halfway and negotiate the price. He again refused, saying that corporate policy doesn’t allow him to compete against online retailers.
So I took a seat just outside his department, grabbed my cellphone, and using Sears’ free Wi-Fi, purchased my TV on Amazon.
If Sears wants to compete for my business, or that of any customer, it needs to actually compete. If you’re selling the same product as the business next door or the retailer online, you need to offer either better service or a better price.
If all you offer is a product showroom, expect your customers to act accordingly.