“Showrooming” — the consumer practice of using brick-and-mortar stores to check out products before going online to buy them for less — has been around for several years. But in 2012 brick and mortars started fighting back, and Amazon — which has encouraged the practice through its price-check app — is the biggest target. Target and Walmart, two of the largest retailers in the world, announced they would no longer sell Amazon’s e-readers. Target also released its own shopping app to incentivize in-store purchasing. Others got in on the showrooming counterpunch as well. In the run-up to the 2012 holiday season, Best Buy announced that it would match the prices of Internet competitors, and stores like Toys “R” Us are beginning to offer products that can’t be found elsewhere, making it impossible for consumers to showroom. But it’s still not clear how harmful showrooming is to retailers. According to a study by mobile-marketing firm Vibes, only one-quarter of showrooming shoppers — 6% of shoppers overall — choose to buy online items they had checked out in physical stores. It turns out that while most people will comparison-shop, they are still likely to buy items at brick and mortars. A study by Deloitte showed that consumers using a smart phone while shopping are 14% more likely to purchase items in a store. While Amazon still has the upper hand, we’re only seeing the first skirmishes in the online-vs.-brick-and-mortar war that’s likely to last years.
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