It’s the scourge of stores everywhere: “showrooming,” the act of going to a store to see and touch a product, then using your phone to find and order the same item for a lower price online.
Some retailers have taken drastic measures to curb the practice, such as blocking barcodes. While likely futile, the effort to stop showrooming is an understandable if sometimes unsubtle reaction to fears of death by a billion clicks.
But the world’s largest retailer hasn’t tried to build a fence to block showrooming. Instead, in an act of digital judo, Walmart is urging shoppers to get out their smartphones when they come into a store.
“You’ve got to go where the customer wants you to go. We live in the age of the customer,” Walmart.com President and CEO Joel Anderson told Wired in an interview this week. “We’re embracing showrooming.”
This doesn’t mean Anderson would be happy if you bought from Amazon or eBay instead. And that’s always an option. But Anderson and Walmart have recognized the reality that no one leaves their smartphones in the car when they come in to shop. Since that’s the case, Walmart has decided not to fight the phone, but to leverage it as one more way to make a sale.