Are you a “scan and scram shopper”? This new, high-tech way of buying has some well known retailers with physical store locations scrambling to come up with creative ways to keep you as a customer. You know what that means: If businesses are competing, you’re going to potentially get some great deals!
Attorney Jeffrey Goldstein is the kind of shopper many “brick and mortar” retailers dread. He walks into big box stores, finds the computer, television, stereo, stroller or even the clothing he’s interested in, whips out his smartphone, pulls up a special price comparison app, and scans the barcode of the item he wants. In the blink of an eye, the app shows him a range of online stores he can find what he’s looking for-- for less. With another touch of a button, he can even order it, right from the store he’s standing in!
Industry experts call it the “scan and scram,” and Goldstein says he loves it! “I find it’s extremely addictive-- to a point where I'll take a look at everything on the shopping list.”
Scanning and scramming, or “showrooming,” is changing the shopping landscape. Some online retailers couldn’t be happier about the phenomenon. “This is the new window shopping,” says an enthusiastic Vipul Lakhi, CEO of MyTrioRings.Com. His online only company offers the same wedding rings major retail chains sell, but for less. Lakhi says that about eight percent of his customers purchased their new bling through their phones. While he thinks some of those buyers may be showrooming, he says that, ironically, he’s able to keep prices down because he doesn’t have a showroom. “We don't have the overhead that you would have in a retail store. That means we don't have the expensive prime real estate; we don't have the expensive salesmen; we don't have to carry excessive inventory.”
How many customers are scanning and scramming? A Pew Internet study found twenty-five percent of adult cell phone owners used their phones in a store to see where they could buy an item for less during last year’s holiday shopping season. And five percent of those mobile price matchers bought the item online.
Even Amazon.Com and Ebay launched price comparison apps to make it easier for shoppers. Klay Huddleston, VP of retail for the digital marketing agency Resource Interactive, says, “It is frustrating to the stores to see this happening.”