“Showrooming.” While I can’t say I’d heard the specific term before, it’s easy to understand what it’s talking about—the practice of using a physical store as a “showroom” where you can examine something and then go buy it online. This is one of the trends many pro-agency pricing comment submitters noted in their comments to the DoJ, though in the DoJ’s response it was largely referred to as “free-riding.”
As I mentioned the other day, a lot of people do “showrooming” in bookstores with their Kindles. However, it’s also long been a popular activity on smartphones for general-purpose merchandise, and last holiday season Amazon shocked the retail industry with its chutzpah by offering on-line discounts to people who scanned prices at retail stores with a price-matching app (though, ironically, these discounts covered everything except books).
But now Wired reports that a new startup wants try to to use smartphone price-comparison shopping for “good”. Tip or Skip is a “hot-or-not” style shopping game in which people compete to find the best purchasable items on a website or in a physical location, and get people to vote up their items (“tip” them) so they get perks based on the number of votes their items received. And the app will use iOS 6’s new location-aware “Passbook” feature to pop up reminders when people near a location with an item they “tipped.”
It’s a clever idea, though I personally think I might find shopping reminders more annoying than useful. (I know where to buy items I’m interested in, darnit!) And it’s not clear that this location awareness will really solve the actual problem, which is that consumers can usually find much better deals online than in their local store. But still, at least they’re trying, and that’s something, right?