A growing percentage of the stuff Americans buy is sold online from Amazon and other web-based retailers. But you can’t walk into an Amazon store to check out the latest Kindle, laptop, smartphone, or game console before placing an order.

We have Best Buy and Walmart, and other bricks and mortar stores for that — but if we use them to fondle items we’re eventually going to order from Amazon due to lower prices, those bricks and mortar stores might not be around forever.

The Wall Street Journal reports some major US retailers including Best Buy, Walmart, and Target are embracing so-called “showrooming” as a way to attract customers… and hopefully keep them.

best buy

Best Buy, for instance, now has a price matching policy. If you wander into a Best Buy to check out a gadget before buying it online, the store wants you to know that they’ll match prices from local retailers, as well as from some top online stores including Amazon, B&H, Newegg, TigerDirect, and B&H.

Target has actually installed WiFi in stores to make it easier for customers to compare prices while they browser the aisles.

According to the WSJ, the strategies seems to be at least keeping the companies from losing customers in droves — and it seems to make more sense to embrace showrooming than to adopt policies that could turn potential customers away.

But it’s not hard to imagine a future where online retail giants like Amazon do to big box stores like Walmart and Home Depot what they had already done to mom and pop neighborhood stores, slowly driving them out of business by offering lower prices.

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19 replies on “Do you use Best Buy as a showroom for things you buy from Amazon?”

  1. I really don’t go into Best Buy anymore. I know they are over priced, so I stay away. I usually go to MicroCenter, but I try to buy it there because the people and I don’t want them to go the way of Borders Books. I’ll only buy it at Amazon if there is a huge price difference.

  2. The Government will put a stop to this by taxing the Internet. The tax will also mean more of your money is taken by the Government to redistribute to certain people and groups in exchange for their votes.

  3. Even though I know it’s normal and necessary to pay sales tax, I’m a cheap bastard, so unless I need something immediately, or I don’t want to deal with the hassle of a return for a big item, I’d buy from Amazon even though Best Buy will pricematch. Appliances are a good example where B&M will get my business, but small electronics will not.
    Once Amazon starts charging tax in my state, I will probably shop at B&M more.

  4. I used to be an avid Amazon customer. But realized that while I might get the lowest price possible, I was not helping my local economy, which matters a lot to me. Thus, I now shop at bricks & mortar shops as much as possible even if it costs me a few extra dollars. And now that Target and others will price match online competitors (i.e., I got a micro SD card for the same price Amazon list, yet didn’t have to spend needlessly in order to get the free shipping) it further reaffirms my decision.

  5. We used to do this kind of thing in the 80s with mail order. Showroom at the local hifi stores, and buy from 47th Photo or other back-of-magazine advertisers. These days, I have a Best Buy credit card, so I sometimes use it for no int financing on things. Now that Amazon collects tax in my state, the playing field has been leveled somewhat as well with B&M. I also tend to buy things at BB that I want right away, and also aren’t really deeply discounted at AMZ, like Apple gear. Price is less an overall consideration for me any more. I do wish there were more indy stores around, though so I could supports them against BB and AMZ. I suppose I feel a little guilty for the way I treated those stores in my youth.

  6. I have the good fortune of having a MicroCenter nearby, meaning that I can look at neat things and buy them for a competitive price, and maybe get help from someone who actually knows what he’s talking about. Plus I also seem to walk out with that $8 external hard drive enclosure that I didn’t know I wanted.

    I’m a big believer in buying from brick and mortar stores (I probably spend close to a thousand dollars a year in local book stores), but it’s very very difficult to get behind Best Buy.

  7. Before amazon, before the 2000s, buddies and I were already used to go to large stores to look up devices (crt monitors, cd burners, routers), sometimes talking with salesman[1], but the price tag made us run away to specialized neighborhood filled with stockroom-like shops with prices 30%-50% lower.

    These big places are unoptimized. Their service is merely usefull for the non saavy. And the cost of having shelf space and (sometimes borderline clueless bs) salesmen put them to a disadvantage.

    1. It has a sense, but not always.
      In 2000s, my hometown was filled a small companies, who sell/repair/upgrade PCs, now almost of them dead or [un]dead… And now business has a big retail networks. ‘Cause they buy more, they can sell more at lower prices.

      1. Interesting. I guess its up to the business owner to pick a model where they don’t over profit from being the largest by upping margins. In this case big stores can thrive.

  8. We use BB when possible and they match Amazon prices, thus it makes returns easier. However, BB doesn’t have the selection of things you can find online, thus we use a lot of online retailers as well.

  9. I still use BB and Target. I don’t even mind paying a little extra for the get it now cost. Yes there is free shipping often, but I am too ADD for USPS.

  10. Problem with Best Buy is small items are over priced so I have stop going there all together. I go to Tiger Direct which has two show rooms near me and buy from them. they are competitive on every level unlike Best Buy who want to nickel and dime you.

  11. The malls are feeling the showrooming phenomenon as well. The news reported that the Mall of America is upping its activities count to 400 a year, to keep people coming. Smaller malls that can’t afford to provide activities could be headed for extinction.

    One factor that could accelerate the demise of brick and mortar is 3D printing. .

  12. Hasn’t Best Buy been requiring that manufacturers offer a slightly different model number for their products as a way to circumvent price matching?

  13. I go to Best Buy when I need a gadget right now, such as a remote for my Samsung HDTV, which won’t work without one. In that case, my local Best Buy (Emeryville, CA) didn’t stock them, so bought from Amazon and waited two or three days. Otherwise, I always check Amazon first and in 95% of the cases, buy from them.

  14. I tend to shop at Costco or Target instead of Amazon or Best Buy. At Target or Costco, the return policy is great (90 days) and its less of a hassle to return than to have to go to the post office. Pricing nowadays tends to be fairly similiar.

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