“Showrooming:” Is it a Good Practice? Or is it Killing Your Local Stores?

Is it wrong to look at it in the store then buy it online? It’s called “showrooming” and it’s been blamed for the death of stores like Circuit City and CompUSA. Best Buy is suffering, and they claim the practice is to blame.

To be fair, Best Buy spokespeople are aware of the real problem. Of course people would rather buy local, but if you can find the same product for less money on line, and if you don’t need it right now, of course you’ll buy online. They claim they’ve been working hard to make sure their prices are close to online stores, and they say they have started with bestbuy.com.

For years, Best Buy brick and mortar stores have had different prices than bestbuy.com. At least they’ve started matching the price online if you tell them, but sometimes it takes a long time to get the right people involved. Unfortunately, according to this story at hdguru.com, Best Buy still has a long way to go.

It looks like on key items, there’s still a huge disconnect between the local stores and bestbuy.com, and it goes both ways. This should be a major embarrassment for Best Buy and they should work on fixing it as soon as possible.

Full Disclosure: This blog is operated by SolidSignal.com and I am an employee of the parent company. But the truth is the truth no matter from where it comes. There will probably come a time when Best Buy will close even more stores and they will blame online competition, Costco, Wal-Mart, and everyone else. Best Buy needs to get its own house in order first.

When I visit a local store, of course I check prices online too. With apps like RedLaser it’s just so easy. But in the end I’ll buy local if the prices are even close. I want what I want, NOW, and the local guys have the advantage. But if prices are ridiculously out of whack with what established online brands (like solidsignal.com) are charging, why would I do that?

I’m even willing to pay a little more for things like TVs. These are fragile items and I want to know I can take it back the same day if it’s broken, and I want to see what it looks like in the showroom. I’m willing to give Best Buy that business. But really? At least make sure that your online and showroom prices are identical. That makes me feel a little better about the process.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 9,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.