What Is Showrooming?

Showrooming, sometimes called showcasing, is the practice of checking out a product at a physical store but buying it online, usually for a cheaper price. This practice is criticized ethically, primarily because brick-and-mortar retailers are providing a free service — allowing the online store's consumer to physically inspect the product — that the online store will profit from by ultimately selling the product to the consumer. Estimates suggest that, in the US, about 40% of consumers have showroomed.

More about looking now and buying later:

  • The top two reasons showroomers say they showroom: price (cheaper online), and customer service (worse at physical stores).
  • Reverse showrooming — when consumers research products online and then ultimately purchase them at a brick-and-mortar store — is less common generally, but relatively common with electronics or other higher-priced products that consumers don’t want shipped.
  • Some companies are fighting back by setting up more robust online services to supplement their retail locations. Target® has arguably been successful at this.
  • US e-commerce sales increased in 2012 by 10 - 15%.
More Info: kellogg.northwestern.edu

Discussion Comments


I think if I were able to tell the customers what I think of them when they're being horribly rude or inappropriate, then shopping in-store would be much more beneficial to customers who are actually worth our time. Plus, there would be fewer customers who are jerks to tick us off, which means better service to those who don't. It's a win-win.


Why not? Some details about an item online are difficult to assess. It's is all about 'buyer beware', do your home work, etc.


Mostly, the service I get from brick-and-mortar stores is abysmal and insulting. Management has to wake up. Stop hiring people who could care less if the business succeeds or fails.


I like to check online for consumer reviews of a product if I'm at a store and feeling indecisive. Then I might put off the purchase so I can more thoroughly research, most recently, hair rollers! So many choices.


I purchased 3 Big Screen TV's during Christmas online

from Walmart, because they were cheaper. Then I picked them up 1 block away at the Walmart store and they paid for shipping.

The only problem was dealing with the people in

the store when I picked them up. They have all year to train the people in the store. What happened?

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