Are you the type of person who goes into stores to check out a product or try something on, just to head home and buy it cheaper online? According to a survey done last fall by a consulting firm called Accenture, nearly two-thirds of all participants planned on browsing traditional stores over Christmas and then make their purchases online. This practise is called ‘showrooming’ and, well, it’s pissing retailers off.

This year, Canadian retailers are taking action in attempt to garner more sales. The Huffington Post reported that one of the retailers to kick-off the change is telecom giant, Rogers. They’ve recently teamed up with mall operator, RioCan, for a location-based smartphone technology, called the Mobile Shopper, that will send customers special offers. The program is meant to intercept customers during the shopping process and allow for them to sign up to receive target offers and even pay for products directly from the device. “Down to an individual section in the store, we can trigger something different. It’s about how we give retail businesses in Canada a platform to better communicate with their customers when they’re in-store and out of the store,” said Mansell Nelson, vice-president of advance business solutions at Rogers. The Mobile Shopper is said to launch at RioCan malls in Ontario later this year.

Retail chains such as Best Buy and Target Canada have already begun tackling the problem by offering price matching, as well as offering an extra 5-10% discount. Another major change will affect employees and the designs of stores. Retail analyst, Daniel Baer, told the Huffington Post that retailers are revisiting their business models and soon “won’t look at their store as a traditional bricks-and-mortar store, but as a distribution centre, or part and parcel of their e-commerce strategy.” So what does this mean? Retailers are likely to cut down on sales staff and implement a “reserve and pick up” strategy, allowing customers to buy online and pick-up in stores.

While big box retailers are able to handle the loss of sales to online retailers such as Amazon, it’s the local and independent shops that seem to be suffering the most. Just this past year, we saw numerous independent stores close down due to the inability to move products and unforeseen overhead costs.  Are you guilty of ‘showrooming’? What do you think retailers should start doing in order to direct more sales towards them?


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