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'Showrooming' Via Smartphone Grows In Popularity, But What Does It Mean For Local Businesses?

By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Smartphones have made "showrooming" a popular way for us to shop.

New research takes a look at how brick-and-mortar stores can keep customers from pointing-and-clicking their way out the door.

You've "showroomed" if you've browsed in person but then bought for a lower price online. Many do this by scanning store item barcodes with Amazon's Price Check app.

Some retailers respond by promising to price-match, but that can be dangerous for a physical location's survival.

"They don't lose sales, but they're getting the low-margin sales, or sales that are potentially losing them money," says David Shim, the CEO of Placed, a location analytics firm that studies shopping habits. "We're showrooming TVs, of course, but increasingly doing the same for smaller-ticket items, like we might find at Kohl's or Bed Bath and Beyond."

To keep our business and support local jobs, he says they've got to stress the human touch that e-tailers can't always provide:

"The big thing is you want to be competitive on price, but it's not going to be sustainable to say we will have the lowest possible price all the time. So they have to go for different things like a better experience, different return policy, better service and support," Shim explains.

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