View Full Version : Showrooming

21st Apr 2013, 06:44
BBC News - The peril of 'showrooming' (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22098575)

The retail crime of 'showrooming', whereby customers peruse and even try on/try out products in a shop, then leave and buy same on-line for a greatly reduced price. All's fair in love and shopping ? Somehow I feel for those companies that are spending a shed load of money to have shops, staff, advertising and then barely survive or go out of business due to fickle customers and gargantuan locust retailers based out of a warehouse somewhere. Somehow it has to do with the modern day ethos of no loyalty from customers and of course the ubiquitous 'for free' mindset engendered by downloading content these last few years. I wonder where we'll be in 10 years at the present rate of high street attrition ? :uhoh:


green granite
21st Apr 2013, 06:51
CRIME? :confused::confused::confused: Just sensible money allocation by the consumer, after all most companies do it all the time at the expense of their customers and it feels good to get one's own back occasionally.

Loose rivets
21st Apr 2013, 06:53
Mmm, and they so often say, shops are not so cute anymore.

Ross Dress for Less in southern Texas t'other day. Woman changes baby on a stock pillow, then leaves it on the floor with the used nappy.

Next woman tried or looked at numerous things, and then threw each one on the floor.

So, pity the shops.

Best Buy was a Fortune Five-hundred company a while back. They are now routinely closing free showrooms.

I simply do not know how Sears stays alive. Almost every transaction I've had with them has been bizarrely poor in service and quality of goods. Such an old name. I've had a $100 gift card of theirs for months. Just dread going in the place.

21st Apr 2013, 07:11
.......... no loyalty from customers and ............ downloading content these last few years.

The former is a question of choice and one over which retailers have influence, the latter is theft. Loyalty has to be earned.

Online shopping and retail shops serve two different purposes. When I know what I want and am not in a hurry for it, I'll buy it on line, usually from Amazon, so I don't have to waste time driving, looking for parking and standing in line with the great unwashed.

When I want to 'browse' or I need assistance. I will go to a real shop. If the staff are helpful and knowledgeable, I will buy from them as I feel they and their employers deserve a return on the investment they made in training and employing those staff.

As an example, in the past I have bought thousands of pounds of photographic equipment from Jessops, whose staff I invariably found to add value to the transaction. When I buy from a shop I know that I may expect some product knowledge and assistance in the event of a subsequent problem.

On the other hand, as was the the case recently when I went to a PC World to buy a laptop, and was harassed by a spotty bumfluffed teenage 'yoof' who had learned the 'upsell upsell' manta and knew nothing about the products, I happily walked out, knowing what I wanted, and went to buy it at John Lewis, where they employ professionals with product knowledge and who don't harass and upsell. Also, even as someone who loathes shopping, I found it a pleasant environment and ended up buying items in different departments.

I think the answer is that to survive, the retail outlets need to invest more in staff training. There was a recent discussion here about the closure of Thomas Cook retail outlets in the UK, and based on my experiences with them and a couple of other High Street travel outlets, they perfectly illustrate why online travel is taking over. Retail staff should add value, the case is often that they add a layer of frustration and obfuscation, as well as trying to sell what suits their agenda rather than the customer.

21st Apr 2013, 07:39
It's a similar problem the newspapers are having with the internet killing off their business too. The solution is simple: Build the relationship with your customer. Although I'm told that doesn't mean much to Gen-Why or Gen-Zombie.

21st Apr 2013, 07:41
Capetonian you have it in a nutshell. :ok:
You would think that with the added competition from the internet, high street retailers would be sharpening up their act in one of the few areas where they can make a difference and that is customer service. The last time I shopped in the high street my distinct impression was that this area seems to be getting worse.

Metro man
21st Apr 2013, 07:51
I've heard some shoe shops in the US charge an admission fee because they are so fed up of people coming in to try on shoes and then buying online.

Many electrical retailers are simply show rooms for bigger appliances, the fridge you try out in store and buy arrives at your house from a logistics centre rather than the shop having one in the store room.

Recently I went to the factory outlet for a high end British shoe manufacturer, the old chap running the shop was fascinating to talk to and I learnt a fair bit in the half hour I was there. I'll definitely be going back and spending more money.

Many shops I visited on a recent holiday had an online ordering facility which is probably the way things are going to go. Physical premises where you can examine the goods, try things out and get advice. Repeat orders placed online.

21st Apr 2013, 08:06
Three words to retailers who whinge about this - or those who seek to defend them.
Adapt, or die.
Motorcycle leathers, bought online and posted direct from Italy.
Several hundred dollars cheaper than here in the shops in Sydney.
Bleating about jobs - not even interested - Australia in particular is a disgrace at protecting uneconomic industries and just delaying the inevitable.
Case in point - the car industry - around $300k in subsidies to save an $80k blue collar manufacturing job.
Heard all the arguments about economic multipliers and `the need to preserve local industry' - don't buy it.
In my view anyone who opposes this trend is playing a mugs game, trying to hold back the forces of history and globalisation.
Bring it on.

21st Apr 2013, 09:10
I went to a PC World to buy a laptop

Thanks for the laughs Capetonian :D

Does anyone seriously still go to PC World to buy anything worth more than 50 ?

21st Apr 2013, 09:24
PC World has actually responded to internet competition by making prices a great deal more competitive although their staff in general are abysmal to deal with.

Two names in the UK whose business I patronise.

The first is John Lewis because of their ethos, staff training/almost universal helpfulness of staff and after-sales service. Their prices can be a little uncompetitive in certain areas though.

The second is Richer Sounds who are very competitive with excellent staff and after-sales service. Worth the small premium for that benefit.

I am also a regular internet buyer but despite being careful to make an assessment of the internet companies I deal with it can very quickly turn into a nightmare when things go wrong.

Lon More
21st Apr 2013, 09:25
It's a similar problem the newspapers are having with the internet killing off their business too

More and more of them are producing digital versions. However I object to paying he sae price for the digital as for he paper one. (No print or distribution costs involved, plus the paper one is good as firelighter)
Amazon tend to do the same with Kindle books. If the Kindle version is the same as the paper one I go for paper, although the convenience of the Kindle is great.

I wouldn't go to PC World for toilet paper; terrible prices, poor choice and ignorant staff.

21st Apr 2013, 09:27
I went to a PC World to buy a laptop
Thanks for the laughs Capetonian

I suppose what I meant was I went to PC World to look at laptops and to touch and feel as this is the best way to get an idea of the build quality, I can't stand flimsy plasticky keyboards. Had I found what I wanted there and not been harangued by Mr. Spotty Bumfluff, I might have bought it.

Milo Minderbinder
21st Apr 2013, 10:03
You'd be amazed how many people to PCWorld, decide on which laptop they want, then go off and order it online from LaptopsDirect........without realising its the came company
Keeps Dixons happy one way or the other

21st Apr 2013, 11:39
Whilst I'm not a cheerleader for badly run businesses and poorly trained staff, the issue is that the less business that the high street shops/chains do, the less money they are able to invest in good staff, pleasant interiors, good stock etc and their demise, if not certain, is on the cards. No doubt the idea of having a showroom with purchases made online is most likely the future for many of the white goods/large electrical retailers.

For those that say 'adapt or die', yes ultimately that is the way of things and the market will decide, the customers will go where they are most satisfied and these days that is all about the price for most of us. Bespoke businesses will survive and flourish, female orientated businesses will survive :p , but many others will go and I wonder if, once they are gone, will 'we' lament their loss for not all is bad even with some of the more famous culprits. Adults who knowingly go into these shops with no intention to purchase from them, only using their facilities and investment are perhaps the problem.


21st Apr 2013, 12:11
SHJ that's the classic trap. In order to combat falling sales, they need to find new ways to compete, and service is the main area where they can do so. Training staff cost money. Not training them costs much more.

Making shops look more inviting is also important, as is attractively displayed stock but in the end it's about making people want to go there because they know they will walk out having received good advice in a friendly environment, and that advice saves money. It's not just about short term savings, buying cheap is expensive in the long run.

I might be different to other people, but I do not walk into a retail outlet of any sort without the intention of purchasing. Whether I make the purchase depends on if they have what I want, and if in the event that I needed assistance or advice, I was offered it.

Erwin Schroedinger
21st Apr 2013, 12:55
...the fridge you try out...

How does one try a fridge out?

...or is that only applicable to cool customers.

Ancient Observer
21st Apr 2013, 13:03
I normally share other posters' dislike of PC World. Like others, I have met some of their, er, less gifted shop assistants.

However, they were advertising a good deal on a laptop a couple of weeks ago, a deal that googling could not beat.

So I went to PC World. The trick there is to avoid the pimply yoofs, find an older person, and ask them "who is the store's experts on laptops".

I did this and a pleasant and knowledgeable Asian lady appeared. She was as good as the best in Jessops when I last bought a camera.

I took her advice, after she showed me the alternatives to the "hot deal". I bought the hot deal. She tried all the usual add-ons, but was not worried when I declined them all.

Got home and in 24 hours pc was acting funny. (To do with the bloody "free" McAfee they had put on it).

Took it back and had a no-quibble replacement with a new one.

Machine works fine. (Nearly. It's wi-fi does not like weak signals. OK at home, but tricky when travelling. I'll seek advice on the compootery thread if I can't fix it).

If the deal is good enough, I would visit them again.

21st Apr 2013, 13:13
Actually the BBC article doesn't mention crime. Not sure how it was introduced into this thread.

Some retailers have it coming. My wife was travelling back from Gatwick and I suggested she go into Currys to buy that iPad her mum wanted. I went online first and found out the and CHF prices at the Apple Store.

Currys at LGW (Duty Free signed all over the place - and my wife's flight was outside of the EU) wanted MORE than Apple's retail price in the UK (which included 20% VAT). According to the Mrs. the salesman swore up and down that the price was 'duty free' and said she was wrong about the price I had given her. "Nobody can sell it for that".

So I bought it from the Swiss Apple Store (8% VAT).

21st Apr 2013, 13:27
Actually the BBC article doesn't mention crime. Not sure how it was introduced into this thread.

To allay any fears, the BBC didn't mention 'crime', for it simply isn't one, but as the OP-er I used the term much as one would say 'social crime' describing someone with bad manners, or 'fashion crime' describing someone's lack of sartorial elegance etc etc....:8


21st Apr 2013, 16:32
Last year the TTNs became the last household in the UK to buy a flat-screen TV. I had a good look on the internet, but the more I saw, the more confused I got. I therefore went to a well-known retailer, the same chain where I had bought my first TV set in 1973. I found one of the older assistants (he may have been the manager) who gave me a lot of advice about the various TVs on offer, and I finally chose one which suited me well and which so far has worked perfectly. An ideal retail experience.

Oh yes, the chain? It was Comet, which went belly-up 4 weeks later. Shame!

21st Apr 2013, 16:47
I think with Comet it was pot luck. I bought a SatNav there, unresearched as it was an immediate necessity, so I just went and bought one. I got excellent advice and service and bought what turned out to be one of the best and most reliable bits of kit (TomTom) I've ever owned, and had excellent reviews. They also gave me a free carrying case.

A few weeks later I went back to the same Comet to buy a scanner/printer and the girl who'd been so helpful was not on duty. I ended up walking out with nothing as first of all I was ignored when asking for help, then got a girl who looked and spoke like 'does my face look bovvered' in that TV series, and more importantly was unable to answer some simple questions, when I asked for someone who knew what they were talking about she was replaced by a miserable old git who was patronising and had BO, and implied that if I needed to ask questions I probably shouldn't own a computer.

21st Apr 2013, 17:05
Well, I use ebay to find what I want, as there is a wide choice of most things on offer, then I go off and search for it elsewhere, as ebay fees make most things more expensive than other places sell them for.

So it is not only high street stores that get used in a similar way.

One of my hobbies is RC flying, and there is an ongoing mouthing off from some people to buy local, and not from the east. Why? Some UK businesses have adapted, and can compete in price and range, I don't see any reason for my money to be wasted to support and prop up those who can't adapt.

There are other areas where equipment is overpriced, even buying online.

The online versus physical may be part of it, but it is not the whole picture. If there are several shops in the area selling the same item, most people will enquire from them and not just buy from the first that may be the most expensive, and at the same time offer poor service. It is all part of a changing world, communications, transport, farming and most other areas of life.

Supermarkets have introduced self service checkouts, put less staff on the tills so there are longer queues, so now I don't shop at the one near me, I buy online; delivery is less than the petrol one way, and I don't have to waste my time in crowded aisles and long till queues.

The world is changing, we either have to change or get left behind. Nothing new though, not for the last couple of thousand years anyway :)

21st Apr 2013, 18:20
I regularly buy on line but certain things i would rather buy locally,particularly if i think i will need advice. Our TV's are bought from the local TV store that specialises in two quality brands.They are slightly more expensive than on line but come and install it give an extra years guarantee and if i buy extras at a later date they come and connect them f.o.c. I have just bought an i - mac, the price was the same on line as from the apple shop. I went the 20 miles to the apple shop because they are always at the end of the phone and i now know who i am speaking to.If necessary they will come and visit to sort out my problems.
On the other hand, i was trying to buy a new camera and the local sales guy was very helpful and knowledgeable but didn't have the camera in stock.He said it would be in in 3 days but after 3 weeks of false promises and no camera i bought on line.The company was Jessops and they went bust 5 months later..The company on line rang me after two weeks and asked how i was getting on with the new camera and to remember i could always
call them for advice.

21st Apr 2013, 20:39
I think physical retailers have to find a new way of attracting and keeping customers.

Just for comparison, I am a school trustee and it has been clear for years that teachers can't keep most kids attention in class, at least any but the very best can't, our minds have been changed by all the stimulation we receive all day, every day. A little while ago we took a trip and visited some schools who were using Project Based Learning. Quite a revelation. No problem at all keeping the kids engaged.

Maybe retailers need to, say, provide entertainment in what they do. Not necessarily overt entertainment but in the sense of making shopping more fun and entertaining.

Just thinking out loud.

22nd Apr 2013, 06:41
The first is John Lewis because of their ethos, staff training/almost universal helpfulness of staff and after-sales service. Their prices can be a little uncompetitive in certain areas though.

I agree, MM. If JL stock what I want it's to there that I go. The staff are more than just helpful, they are knowledgable about the products as well. JL also has the internet covered and something bought on-line can either be delivered or picked up at your nearest branch of JL or Waitrose. And there's the "never knowingly undersold" tag so if it's cheaper at Argos, point that out. Plus the JL exchange/money back guarantee. JL has given us excellent service over many years of purchases from carpets to white goods to TVs and computers. Worth paying a little extra for if you have to, IMHO. It comes from the staff being the shareholders.