Online retailers have been a threat to bricks-and-mortar retailers. It is more convenient to purchase products locally, of course. But when you go into a retail store and see an item selling for 20% higher than you find at an online store, well, it's hard to justify spending the extra money sometimes. Consumers have been going into retail stores to examine and test merchandise and then going home to order that exact item online at a lower price.
The problem has gotten worse as more people are using smart phones. This makes it possible to compare prices right there in the store. Retailers are faced with a serious problem. How can they charge what they charge when it's so easy to see what the online stores are selling the exact same item for? If you were buying a laptop for $800 and could get the same item for $700 with free shipping and no sales tax, wouldn't you?
There are several strategies to deal with this problem. The most popular strategy is to offer price matching. Most retailers offer price matching now. Certainly they cannot sell to everyone at the lower prices, but the number of people requesting price matching is low enough that this is a good strategy for now. Sooner or later, however, consumers will lose interest in this hassle.
There are some long term strategies that will solve this issue. These are solutions provided by the product manufacturer. More products will have fix prices to eliminate this problem. Other products will build specialized kiosks and other low cost methods to allow direct ordering of products. These strategies are as much as ten years away however.
In the meantime, I was at a local Best Buy store. I love to study Best Buy's practices, both good and bad, and use them to represent the retail sector. Best Buy wins the Jerry Hobby superstar solution award for brilliance. Best Buy has placed bar codes on the label for every product. The product card has online reviews, a QR code you can scan with your phone, and other information about the product. Great. But what is the so brilliant? The QR code that most consumers will scan does not take you to a comparison shopping screen. It takes you directly to the product on the bestbuy.com website. Now consumers will feel like they looked it up online, however they are not finding it quite as easy to compare prices online. Brilliance I tell ya! As a consumer, you certainly can grab the product box and scan the box itself and do your compare shopping from the codes on the box. However, a much smaller percentage of consumers will figure that out. Therefore, Best Buy uses price matching policies to serve those customers. The Best Buy QR code reduces the number of consumers asking for price matching and provides a service to the consumer as well. Kudos to Best Buy for this idea.
Online shopping is easy to discuss for retailers. It also impacts B2B and other service companies. If you are uncertain about how online competition is impacting your business's sales, then we need to talk. Call today for a free consultation.
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About Our Show Advisor: Jerry Hobby is the CEO and techno-guru of Anything Internet. He is always looking for new and better ways to help people get more results from their websites. Visit www.AnythingInternet.com or call 800-686-5986 to schedule your free consultation. Anything Internet - Turning web sites into web businesses.