It won't be long before the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear. Many shoppers have already scoped out gift ideas online, and now more shoppers are turning to their smart phones when they head to the department store. It's a shopping approach called "showrooming."
As you look down the aisle of your favorite store, there will likely be more than just customers pushing a cart to fill with holiday gifts. You just might see a shopper using a smart phone to compare prices.
Purdue retail expert Richard Feinberg called the practice "all good for the consumer."
Feinberg took a walk with us through a local department store to shed light on "showrooming."
The store's aisles serve as a showroom of products, and then with an app that scans a barcode, you get an instant display of prices at competing stores or online providers.
"Most of the showrooming is done by a younger demographic, 19-25, 19-30," Feinberg said. "After you get over 30, showrooming significantly declines. It's not that it doesn't happen. It's just less likely to happen."
Feinberg says right now the practice of showrooming isn't easy enough for most shoppers to deal with, but he says he thinks in five years, it will happen often enough to cut into store sales.
"Retailers have actually hurt themselves," according to Feinberg. "They said all consumers want Wi-Fi. Well, that makes it much easier to comparison shop while you are in the store."
Brick and mortar stores can try to head off showrooming, according to Feinberg. " The most aggressive approach," he said," is to have a relationship with the customer so they don't go anywhere else."
In the meantime, you'll see name brand department stores using rewards, gift cards, and other bonuses as incentive for you to buy in house.