Do You Use Retail Stores For Showrooming?

Do You Use Retail Stores For Showrooming?

Showrooming — checking out goods in a physical store and then buying them online instead — is a common phenomenon, even if it annoys shopkeepers. Do you do it?

Photo by Mack Male

For the uninitiated, “showrooming” refers to browsing a physical retail store to get your hands on devices or an in-person demo before going home to purchase the product online. Online stores can often provide a better price than brick-and-mortar stores, but the downside is you can’t get a feel for your gadget before you spend money on it. Showrooming allows you to find out before you spend, but irritates retailers who put in all the effort and get none of the benefit. One Queensland specialist retailer even took to charging people for browsing to try and stop people showrooming.

So we’re wondering: Do you take part in the practice? And what could a retailer do while you’re in their store to convince you to buy right then and there instead of purchasing online? Tell us in the comments.


  • I personally don’t. If I check out an item in a store it’s usually because I intend to buy it that day and take it home, or because I have no intention of buying it and am just playing around.

    If I want to buy something online I investigate it online, read reviews, etc. and make a decision based on the information available. I don’t tend to feel the need to see the item in person before placing my order.

    • Yep, this is what I do as well. I’ll add if I do go in to a store, I’ll go in armed with the online price and try and haggle it down. I don’t expect them to match it, but if they try hard enough, I’ll buy it there and then.

    • I do the same as you, Matthew. If I want to buy something online, I’ll research it online, but if I’m looking at something in-store I’m either going to buy it that day from that store, or I’m just browsing.

  • I go one step further sometimes and buy the item online while still in the store. No messing around! 🙂 A while ago I even used an online price as a negotiation tool but the salesman’s quip was “we don’t try to compete with online pricing”. In the end, price won out against the convenience of buying retail and the “benefits” like after sales support.

  • Guilty.

    Maybe retailers should make sure their own online pricing is as competitive as possible to entice people to buy from their online stores? Ultimately this is overwhelmingly a price issue, that is the reason people go online to buy their stuff.

    Knowledgeable sales people might help. I know there are some out there who endeavour to be the best sales people they can be but I had to ask 3 people where elastic bands were kept in an OW store the other day.

  • Well, when it comes to Australia it makes a big difference. We live close to Asia and we buy Asian made goods ( which is everything ) more expensive than US. There is a big difference in price when it comes to online shopping and it’s quite motivating to check the ebay price of something you liked on the store if you don’t need to use it in that particular day and have a week or two to receive it.
    I would have bought a BMW online if I could since we earn the same salary but it’s almost half the price over us and your talking 30Ks extra not 15 dollars.

    PS: I love to bargain and it’s all my motivation to hit the store and get something I like instantly for an online price.

  • It goes both ways though. I love how this type of article never takes into account the amount of people that spend time researching products online, and then go to the store and buy it without requiring interaction from a sales person, allowing the employee to serve somebody else. While I do practice both options, I’m much more likely to check prices online and then go into the store and buy it that day.

    • Yes, I frequently do this, especially with big-ticket purchases. I do my research online where I can find reviews and make comparisons and so on. And then I’ll go into the shop to buy. It means I’m not reliant on a floor sales person who may or may not know very much about the particular product line, I’m less vulnerable to sales tactics, and I don’t have to spend as much time in the shop.

      For example, when I bought a high-end compact camera a few years ago, I spent a lot of time on specialist review sites, really working out what I wanted and what would suit me best, looking at downloaded sample photos, reading reviews, and so on. Then it was a case of into the shop to tell them what I wanted and pay.

      But with a less-expensive accessory (a tripod) purchased later, I didn’t bother. I consulted a couple of sites to get an idea of what brands/models were available and the general price ranges and then I went into the shop and allowed the sales person to show me what they had and help me choose the best option.

    • That’s a really good point.. I do that myself all the time, and had never really considered it as the “opposite” (for want of a better term) to showrooming.

  • How do you think the internet feels when people do all their research online before buying something in store? Yeah, not so good when the shoe’s on the other foot.

    It’s only fair that it works both ways.

  • I do it sometimes, but I don’t often buy particularly expensive items online. As good as a deal might be, it’s not much of a bargain if you never get the item, or if it arrives broken. Even if the seller will replace it for you, you can lose your savings to postage. Most of what I buy online is stuff I don’t need to get a hands on with first.

    What I do sometimes do is go to a shop like JB, that has products on display that I can muck around with, and then I might go buy from somewhere else that has a better price, but doesn’t have a display model.

  • I’m a proud showroomer, especially for things like gadgets where I want to physically try it out before buying online. The only thing a store could do to convince me to buy from them is to either match the online price or at least come close enough to it that I’m happy to pay the extra to have the product immediately rather than waiting for postage. But when an online product is half the price of a store product, or even less, it’s a no-brainer.

  • I use online to work out what is available on the market in terms of product options and price. Then go to the store to physically inspect the item and then negotiate a fair price.

  • I’m a showroomer, and I have no problems with it. At the end of the day, price is #1. It works both ways too; there are plenty of examples of where businesses don’t cater to people’s needs / wants because it would cost the business too much, they want to deliver things in the cheapest way possible. Go suck it, Gerry Harvey.

  • I do both sides… I’ll visit the ‘showroom’ and check the item. If priced OK, I’ll buy it there, but if the markup is excessive, online sale it is.

  • I usually do this for big ticket items or big items in general.. like washing machines, fridges and so on. I will generally try to strike a deal with the store though.. but usually find that the online store can provide me with a shipping included cost well below what the store is willing to offer.

  • Since moving to a small country town I’ve begun doing the opposite. For example with cycling gear, I’ll head into my local bike shop, let them know what I want, and what I’d be willing to pay (something in between RRP and the average online price). If it’s something they don’t stock, they’ll contact their suppliers and then get back to me on whether we can work something out. If not, I’ll go shop online and they’re still happy knowing that I tried to give them the opportunity.

    At the end of the day, I’d much rather that money I spent went to local businesses, who then in turn spend most of their money with other local businesses.

  • Absolutely. When researching camera prices, it came down to $3500 at Harvey Norman, or $2800 online. I went in to handle the camera in person, to ensure that’s what I wanted, and when I was sure, went back with the intention of buying online.

    Not only because of the price, but because of the high-pressure sales tactics the guy used. He tried so hard to pressure me into buying it then and there, and even got a co-worker to tell some BS story of how their friend ordered a camera online, and it came in bubble wrap in a manilla envelope, all busted up.

  • I do this. I don’t waste the time of in-store workers. By the time I get to the Showrooming part of my purchase process I probably know more than they do about what it is I’m buying.

    But as the former Mayor of Carmel once said.. “A man’s gotta know his limitations…” When I’m outside my areas-of-expertise, I definitely go to a Showroom retail store and take the initial advise of the experts (things like beds, fridges.. non-gadget items). And most of the time I will buy from that store, from that person who took the time and knew their stuff.

    But for gadgets and gizmo’s and tech… I do my research on the interwebs and if required will do a physical fly-by at a Showroom retail shop.

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