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I Did Some Showrooming

Showrooming (verb): The act of going into a store to see a product and collect information, then buying it from a different source cheaper.

It is the new bad thing that will be the demise of brick & mortar stores trying to compete with Internet warehouses with low overhead in tax-friendly states with minimum wage order pickers. It is the new approach by Amazon to steal your customers away.

Except it is not all that new.

People have been shopping around for a better price for years. Customers have been going into stores to see items, get information, and get advice only to turn around and buy the item somewhere else cheaper ever since the day the second caveman opened a competing spear store. Grog undercut Brug’s prices and showrooming began.

It just hasn’t been as brazen until now. We all have experienced the customer who asked us questions, picked our brains, then snapped a pic of the barcode and left. That customer is no different than the catalog shopper of the last century, no different than Brug’s brother-in-law who went to Grog’s store first.

Those customers are simply Transactional Customers. They look at each shopping event as a singular activity. They do all the research they can on the product, then they go off on a hunt to find the best price. If you don’t have the best price, you don’t make the sale.

I’ve done it. You have, too. You have looked at an item in a store then bought it elsewhere cheaper. We all have a Transactional side in our shopping habits on certain categories.

I think where the frustration lies is that we believe that just because she entered our store, she is our customer. No she isn’t! She isn’t your customer until she decides to make a purchase from you. It is up to you to get her to that point. And even when she makes that purchase, she still isn’t your customer. You have to earn it over and over and over again.

So if we want to combat this new (old) threat, the first step is to recognize that she is not your customer until the transaction is completed. She never was and won’t be unless you get her to buy. It is called closing the sale and it is something we all need to improve.

Of course, closing the sale has changed since Grog’s day. Let’s quit complaining about showrooming and start learning new ways to close the sale. Okay?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I talk a little about closing the sale in my free download Customer Service: From Weak to WOW!  I am doing a presentation on Selling in a Showrooming World at the ABC Spring Educational Conference in a couple weeks.  Look for the free eBook to land sometime after that.


  1. I'm pretty frugal and do buy things online but I'm willing to pay more to buy from a brick and mortar store. It's a question of how much more. I like to pick it up right there if I can and if I like the salesperson, and the price isn't crazy, I'll buy. I buy from Ace Hardware all the time knowing I'm paying a little more, but not that much more. I like the place and the people who work there.

    The dumbest thing I've been told in a retail store: "If you don't find what you're looking for, we can order it for you." I give them my polite, fake smile but I'm thinking: "If I wanted it ordered, I'd have ordered it myself online." In fact, the number one reason I buy online isn't price, it's availability. At $3-$4, I'm not interested in driving from store to store looking for what I can buy online with a couple of clicks.

    When it comes to wasting your time and then going online to buy it, I feel less sorry for the retailer than I do the soulless individual who does that to another person.

  2. Jerry, that convenience factor is the main reason why Amazon is investing billions into trying to provide same-day delivery. I think it is a mistake on their part. Will cost them more than it is worth. But I'm not the one to tell them how to blow their money.

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