Showrooming is a new buzzword that has cropped in the last few years. It is defined as:
“the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item.”
We all love to save money—that’s understood. But when a customer comes in and utilizes our free services (like water testing) or ties our employee’s time up for an hour or so while they pick their brain for information and then take that recommendation to buy from an online retailer, it is an ethical gray area that has become a common practice that drains a small company’s vital resources.
The downside of “ethical gray areas”
We actually had a customer recently call to complain that he had purchased a pool cleaner that we had recommended to him and it wasn’t working. He didn’t buy it from us. But he felt that it was our fault because it was the product we’d researched, recommended, and carefully explained to him.
Let’s face it folks… when you buy something from someone, it is THAT retailers responsibility to help you through the warranty process… and online retailers aren’t always very good at that.
When a customer buys something from us, we have great relationships with our vendors and can often get the product replaced quickly if there’s a problem. We would have been able to easily help that gentleman if he had made his purchase through our company but because he didn’t, he was left with the frustration of trying to deal with the online retailer he made the purchase through.
There’s a saying “The bitterness of poor quality (service or product) remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Unfortunately, that gentleman is experiencing the truth in that statement.
Showrooming causes negative effects far beyond the local merchant level
As of this time, sales taxes are not charged for online purchases. When a customer purchases their products online, they are technically supposed to report it and pay the sales tax on it.
But we all know that doesn’t happen! Every time a consumer makes a purchase online and the sales taxes are avoided, they are affecting the vital services within their communities that those taxes pay for: fire, police, teachers, roads, education, infrastructure, transportation, etc. I am always amused to find people within those professions buying their products online instead of supporting their local merchant.
But then there’s the lower pricing, right?
Well, online retailers are a clever bunch. They don’t advise the consumer that warranties are often void when the product is purchased online. They don’t advise the consumer that they (the consumer) have to ship it back (and pay the freight) if there’s a problem with the product. They don’t advise the customer that it’s a BIG hassle if things don’t go as planned.
Online retailers don’t have the overhead associated with a brick and mortar store. They don’t have to provide good customer service. They don’t have to back their products.
Shop local, shop small
We are so happy to hear of the movement taking place encouraging consumers to SHOP LOCAL and SHOP SMALL businesses. Those retailers provide employment within your community, pay taxes for critical services, and provide a valuable service to the communities they serve. Your local businesses are often supporting youth sports teams and other charities that support the residents within their community.
We want to take this opportunity to say THANK YOU to each of our loyal customers who shop at our store. We appreciate your business and appreciate that you choose to support your local businesses and your local community.