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Businesses Cellphones The Almighty Buck

Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers 725

Posted by Soulskill
from the by-grabthar's-hammer,-what-a-savings dept.
Ponca City writes "The WSJ reports that until recently, retailers could reasonably assume that if they just lured shoppers into stores with enticing specials, the customers could be coaxed into buying more profitable stuff too. But now, marketers must contend with shoppers who can use their smartphones inside stores to check whether the specials are really so special. 'The retailer's advantage has been eroded,' says analyst Greg Girard, adding that roughly 45% of customers with smartphones had used them to perform due diligence on a store's prices. 'The four walls of the store have become porous.' Although store executives publicly welcome a price-transparent world, retail experts don't expect all chains to measure up to the harsh judgment of mobile price comparisons, and some will need to find new ways to survive. 'Only a couple of retailers can play the lowest-price game,' says Noam Paransky. 'This is going to accelerate the demise of retailers who do not have either competitive pricing or a standout store experience.'"
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Retailers Dread Phone-Wielding Shoppers

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  • by bytethese (1372715) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:28AM (#34586746)
    'This is going to accelerate the demise of retailers who do not have either competitive pricing or a standout store experience.'

    Be creative? Negotiate better wholesale costs so that you can offer your customers lower prices? If not, someone else will. Isn't that capitalism?

    If a restaurant had better food, a nicer atmosphere and cheaper prices, wouldn't you frequent that place as well?
    • by Abstrackt (609015) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:37AM (#34586882)

      If the fact that Wal-Mart is the only local place I can buy my clothes and groceries is a sign the system is working I'm not so sure I want it to work. I'm not saying we should regulate the hell out of everything but I really miss having other options when I shop.

      • by scourfish (573542) <scourfish AT yahoo DOT com> on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:54AM (#34587130)
        I'm not saying we should regulate the hell out of everything but I really miss having other options when I shop.

        In the city to which I'm currently residing in Kentucky (you know, south of the Mason-Dixon, where all of those gun-toting conservatives people love to make fun of so much) there is a Walmart, at least 2 Meijers, several Kroger's, a bunch of specialty ethnic stores, a whole foods type co-op, along with both chain electronics stores and several specialty shops all over the place. "Other options" are doing just fine.
        • In the city to which I'm currently residing...

          See, here's the thing... you live in a city. Walmart primarily targets rural towns and works hard to drive every other business into the ground so that they can have a near monopoly on retail sales in that location. Sure, sometimes competitors come in like Meijers or Kroger, but usually only once a town reaches a certain size, large enough to be profitable for them. In many cases only Walmart's huge volume and cutthroat supplier practices make what they do profitable over long period of time. So in that reg

        • I'm not saying we should regulate the hell out of everything but I really miss having other options when I shop.

          In the city to which I'm currently residing in Kentucky (you know, south of the Mason-Dixon, where all of those gun-toting conservatives people love to make fun of so much) there is a Walmart, at least 2 Meijers, several Kroger's, a bunch of specialty ethnic stores, a whole foods type co-op, along with both chain electronics stores and several specialty shops all over the place. "Other options" ar

      • by erroneus (253617) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:56AM (#34587164) Homepage

        I wouldn't go so far as to say that it's working. People are STILL pretty stupid. Have you noticed that brand markers and logos are getting larger and larger? This is because they are trying to convince the public that they aren't wearing clothes so much as they are wearing labels. (I would say they have been pretty successful so far!) So there's still plenty of room to exploit common consumer stupidity.

      • by kenrblan (1388237) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:57AM (#34587178)

        I'm with you on this, and that is one of many reasons I try to avoid Wal-Mart. If the end game is that only one store is left in the race to the bottom on price alone, the end result is a total monopoly. At that point, the winning retailer (Wal-Mart) is no longer required to keep the prices low since there is no longer a competitive need. Of course, the free market capitalism evangelists would claim that another store is free to open to compete. The problem with that is the barrier to entry would be beyond any realistic capability and the competitor could be easily squashed by a short term price adjustment from the monopoly. The good news is that there are currently enough competing stores that actually beat Wal-Mart on some prices, quality, or convenience to keep that from happening on the national level. The problem is that those retailers primarily exist in the larger metropolitan areas and not in towns of populations below 50,000 where competition is desperately needed.

        Additionally, the smartphone apps are probably shedding the light on the fact that stores other than Wal-Mart often have a better price on many items. That is something I had observed in comparing prices on groceries when a Super-Center threatened the existence of the local grocery stores in the town in which I previously lived. Just because a store says it always has the low price in its advertisement, it doesn't make it true.

        • by BigSes (1623417)

          Just because a store says it always has the low price in its advertisement, it doesn't make it true.

          I believe the slogan is actually "Always Low Prices" and if you ask me, that's very non-commital. Probably for that exact reason, so nobody can attempt to legally to hold them to having the lowest price.

      • by bluefoxlucid (723572) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:33AM (#34587744) Journal

        I've been wanting to start a competitor to Wal-Mart but you know, no capital. It'd be like Wal-Mart but more selective...

        Wal-Mart sells some good stuff, but mostly crappy stuff; but for the most part all they do is play on price. I can get King Arthur Flour for about $3.50 for a 5lb bag there, which is a great price for the best flour I've yet found; although the bags look a little manhandled, and I wonder if they really have 5lb or if some's been beaten out of them in transit.... Wal-Mart pushes its manufacturers to reduce prices at any cost, suggesting ways to cut corners, get cheaper materials, even outsource to China; I dislike this, because they care nothing for quality.

        What I want is a Wal-Mart like store that specifically tries to play the budget game, but on value terms. "Cheap as shit" is not value; "Great Value" brand food is the least costly food, but also the worst value. If you want value, you must spend a little more.. and only a little more.

        When I buy clothes, I go to Sears. I pick out Land's End Business Outfitter's clothes. A shirt at Wal-Mart costs $18 and tears at the seams or develops fuzzy spots or holes after 2-3 washes; after 2 years, the $25 Land's End shirts I have aren't even discolored, much less fuzzy or tearing. One DID fall apart, a little... one of the seams wasn't finished right. I have had 8 of their shirts, that one was an oddity. I suspect performance of Polo and Doc Martin's clothes would be the same; Levis always made awesome jeans. By the way, pants at Wal-Mart cost about $22 last I looked, and Land's End pants cost $40 BUT I buy them on sale for $30, which happens all the time.

        That's the kind of thing I would do for a Wal-Mart clone. We can't compete on price with Wal-Mart, but you aren't getting Wal-Mart crap. I'd skip the standard stuff. In the food section I'd only offer King Arthur and maybe some of the fine-milled flour I can get at the farmer's market in bulk (I'd talk to the farmers for this one). There's way better milk than the mass-market pushed crap; Trickling Springs Creamery makes EXCELLENT milk (it surprised me milk actually could taste better), and there are other dairies that put out cheaper but still better product than Leigh's and Cloverfield. Fresh baked bread is always good; there would be a bakery ... like at Safeway, you know, $1 baguettes and artisan loaves, bread is pretty cheap to make and can be done en masse for not too much labor cost (that $1 baguette is 25 cents of product and 75 cents of labor and margin).

        Good food, better quality non-designer-brand clothing (not like $100 shirts, more like $25 shirts instead of $18 shirts), maybe stock some alternative stuff in the personal care section (Merkur DE razors, straight razors, brushes, DE blades; Dr Bronner's soap, etc, there's some not-Dial-soap that's not $4 a bar too; some higher end colognes that only cost $10-$15 a bottle...). I might tint the CD section... no censoring CDs, but aim for less mainstream material and more diversification (i.e. have Die Toten Hosen in the metal section, some Eurobands, some less-known names like Sonata Arctica, indie stuff and good mainstream), maybe with a suggestion box so customers can share their favorite no-name bands. CDs are easily accessible (Amazon), I'm not interested in pushing mainstream crap; the value-add service there is to have an "interesting" CD section, not a grocery section to buy radio songs and Top 10 hits.

        I think it's a sad reflection of society that we have places like Wal-Mart that push "low low LOW prices" and sell absolute garbage. Everything there is either "what everyone buys" or "something we dug out of the trash" ... it's like a dollar store that's trying not to be a dollar store. They know they have to sell actual Oxyclean because the brand recognition is better than the $1 price tag on "Awesome Oxygen", same goes for dish washing liquid and motor oil (motor oil is actually important though). Gillette razors are so over-markete

        • by rjstanford (69735) on Friday December 17, 2010 @12:07PM (#34589188) Homepage Journal

          Hmm. Perhaps you could call it Target?

    • by cygnwolf (601176)
      [quote] Be creative? Negotiate better wholesale costs so that you can offer your customers lower prices? If not, someone else will.[/quote] And that someone else is Wal-Mart, with their huge market share and buying power to force the manufacturers into giving them a better price than Mom and Pop could ever hope to negotiate.
      • Unfortunately I can't attest to that, we don't have any Wal-mart's at all in NYC and I seem to be able to shop ok. :)

        I work at a large business that often negotiates with vendors for the best prices. Ultimately not everyone will want to go to Wal-mart and would like to have choice. If the service was better, return policy easier or something else, but the prices slightly higher, it may be worth it for me to shop at Wal-mart's closest competitor. Leads to the "creativity" part of the equation.
      • by cygnwolf (601176)
        Not to self. Preview is your friend.
    • by Magada (741361)

      Mmm creativity.
      Step 1: Tinfoil, and lots of it. Metallic mesh for windows. If you're a mom-and-pop outfit, you may skip step 2.

      Step 2: Just to be sure, jam the heck out of GPRS, 3G and 4G frequencies, provide free wi-fi on the premises but route wi-fi traffic through a filtering proxy. Make sure to also provide a micro-cell so you can filter SMS. If all else fails, start jamming voice traffic as well.

      Step 3: Profit!

      • I know you're being facetious but that isn't allowed under US FCC regulations. Cell jamming of any kind is forbidden.

    • by mdarksbane (587589) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:47AM (#34587014)

      I regularly pay a little more for goods that I know less about if I got good service. As long as the price is at least vaguely comparable, being able to physically touch and try out something is worth a bit of money to me. Especially when it's something where the salesperson helped me look at options, understood what I wanted, picked the best value for me, etc, and didn't just hand me which one they were pushing that week.

      Of course... sometimes the markup is too high. I really wanted to buy a TV locally, but they "don't price match amazon," which means that the same TV at amazon was $1500 less... you've got to at least make the same ballpark.

      • I hate salesmen. The last guy I went to at a Conn's (electronics/appliance store) kept bothering me about buying a big TV. All I wanted was a cheaper TV and I had a size already in mind. He literally would not stop following me around and telling me to "OOooh! This TV is so nice though and there is great financing". I can do my own research.
      • by MightyYar (622222) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:03AM (#34587282)

        you've got to at least make the same ballpark.

        Exactly, I just willingly paid $50 more at a brick-and-mortar plumbing supply place for a specific toilet that was cheaper online. For one thing, I could go over and pick it up immediately, and for another, I didn't have to deal with having a delicate thing shipped to me.

        • by tophermeyer (1573841) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:17AM (#34587494)

          I did this recently with a TV at Best Buy. The sale price on the one I wanted was close enough to what I could find online.

          I was able to actually see the TV, see how it looked, and spin the thing around to look at how the I/O ports are configured. I probably paid a little bit more than I would have online, but I firmly believe that the little extra cost is worth it to keep actual displays available at brick-and-mortar mortar locations.

          Definitely did not by the extra high quality "HD Optimized" gold plated monster cables though. I might be a little altruistic, but I'm not a fool.

          • by radtea (464814) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:02AM (#34588220)

            I was able to actually see the TV, see how it looked, and spin the thing around to look at how the I/O ports are configured.

            Having just helped my g/f buy a netbook at Best Buy, I'd highly recommend you do the same thing to the TV they actually sold you, which may not be the one on the shelf.

            Seriously: the clowns at Best Buy tried to sell us the wrong netbook with the wrong battery at the wrong price. That was AFTER I had opened the box to check things and noticed a 25 Whr battery that was supposed to last six hours, spoke to the sales-person about it, who spoke to the "Geek Squad" clown about it, who assured me that advances in battery tech and power management made it totally plausible that it was the right battery.

            When I realized the price was wrong on the bill I got the sales clown to bug the manager who tried to blow me off. I then pointed out the model number on the bill was different from the one on the self and the manager claimed the last four digits were only for colour. I leaned on them (politely) and got them to look up the model number online, and lo and behold it was rather more than the colour that varied with those crucial last digits.

            So a computer-literate, physically imposing man who has been described as 'forceful' in performance reviews was just barely able to get the correct product out of Best Buy. I can only imagine what the average person goes home with.

            The best thing: after all this my g/f decided to buy a carry-bag for the netbook, and they charged her the wrong price for it (she went back the next day and got it reduced to the posted price, and they immediately pulled the posted price off the stand...)

            I've had pretty terrible experiences with TigerDirect, who have great prices but really annoying follow-up (endless calls from salespeople). But I'd gladly buy from them if it meant never having to set foot in Best Buy again.

        • by berwiki (989827)
          And you have somewhere to return it. And someone to complain to directly.

          The premium you pay is more like a warranty of sorts. Someone/something is more accountable than an invisible mega-corp who mysteriously ships things to you.

          Have you ever had an Amazon shipment not show up? It's horrendous trying to get your money back (or a new set of items). Amazon blames UPS, UPS blames Amazon. It sucks hard. It takes weeks beyond what you wanted to wait.
    • by poetmatt (793785)

      basically, they're saying that people who do a shitty job are going to fail faster, which is an overall good.

      the people who do a good job are also going to succeed faster. So this means that brick and mortar shitstores like best buy will hopefully go out of business (and good riddance)

    • this store is now a cell-phone free environment."

      There. If I predict it, it will be less likely. ;-)

      • this store is now a cell-phone free environment."

        There. If I predict it, it will be less likely. ;-)

        This is exactly why you don't want places like theaters implementing phone jamming devices. Once it becomes 'acceptable', doing it at a place like Best Buy gets lots easier.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Cool. I'll just leave the cell-phone outside. Along with the pocket it's in, and the ass those pants are on.

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Yup, so you cant complain when the only store you can shop at is Walmart.

      Walmart can buy 8000X more volume than any other store can so they can undercut everyone.

      Fortunately most american shoppers are horribly shallow and dont care most about price but trendyness..

      Abercrombie torn up jeans at $150.00 and a Aercrombie Sweatshirt that is lower quality than a Fruit of the loom but says "ABVERCROMBIE" on it and costs $65.00 compared to $19.00 is far more important.

      I gotta look like I have money.... Oh and can y

    • All the cell phones are doing is adding to the efficiency of the market. And most economists would agree that this is a good thing. Retailers that profit by inefficiencies in the market are doomed to failure eventually, at least if you believe in free market principles.

      One advantage that retailers will have for the foreseeable future is in letting the customer experience the product prior to sale. That's a big reason why the Apple company stores are such a good idea. And the reason why Target recently re-di

  • Great! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The MAZZTer (911996) <.megazzt. .at. .gmail.com.> on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:29AM (#34586756) Homepage

    The retailer's advantage has been eroded

    Fine by me.

    This is going to accelerate the demise of retailers who do not have either competitive pricing or a standout store experience.

    Good riddance.

    • by Chrisq (894406)
      The problem comes when there are only a few retailers left, many areas having only one close bye and they then put the prices up to a higher level than they were before.
      • But you act as if no one else can open a store again once they are all gone.

        A true monopoly is one where no one else is even allowed into the market, such as our crapy phone, cable, and power systems, which are backed by the force of law, or in situations where the last one standing can prevent anyone else from competing.

        That is not the case in retail.

        If Walmart manages to wipe out everyone else and then starts jacking up the prices, competitors will start springing up all over the place with time for

        • by rjstanford (69735)

          But you act as if no one else can open a store again once they are all gone.

          A true monopoly is one where no one else is even allowed into the market, such as our crapy phone, cable, and power systems, which are backed by the force of law, or in situations where the last one standing can prevent anyone else from competing.

          That is not the case in retail.

          If Walmart manages to wipe out everyone else and then starts jacking up the prices, competitors will start springing up all over the place with time forcing them to either become the price leader once again or be wiped out themselves.

          Heh. If we all opened stores at the same time, maybe. But if you're going up against Walmart, a multi-national, in the environment that the GP post described, you'd better have deep pockets. If not, they can drop their prices down below cost (actually probably to above their cost but below yours) until you go out of business. Hell, they could just give stuff away until you ran out of money, and make it all up as soon as you closed the doors. The long periods without competition would make up for the sh

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The retailer's advantage has been eroded

      Fine by me.

      This is going to accelerate the demise of retailers who do not have either competitive pricing or a standout store experience.

      Good riddance.

      You do understand that small stores cannot possibly compete on price with the likes of Walmart et al, right? It's not a question of greed or a lack of will, it's simple economics. In a world where only the lowest price store could exist you would only have a couple of companies in that sector, period.

      And we all know what happens when there is a lack of competition...

      • by jorenko (238937)

        And that's where A Standout Store Experience comes in, if you're only willing to stick it out and read the last quarter of the sentence. Small stores need to have helpful, knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service; enough so to engender extreme customer loyalty.

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:30AM (#34586762)

    Retailers soon to petition FCC to allow cell-blocking technology in private businesses.

    • That would never be permitted in public stores, people would stop shopping in them or stop buying as much and rush out of the store sooner, destroying whatever advantage the store gets for erecting a "wall of ignorance".

      What if there's a family emergency? What if your kid got hurt at school? You simply can't screw with mobile connectivity anymore, it's too important.

      • I would see such an action as a clear indication that they wish to screw me over with expensive products. I wouldn't buy anything there.
    • Just build your store out of whatever Meijer uses. I can barely get my phone to work when I'm in their stores. (Which is even funnier when you consider the Meijer Find-It iPhone app that isn't terribly useful, mostly because of the aforementioned problem.)
    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      If they do it at the movie theaters I have no problem with this.
  • I did this (Score:5, Informative)

    by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:30AM (#34586782) Homepage

    I used my phone to find the best prices when I was buying various white goods (fridge/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher) upon moving house, from a certain UK big-box electrical retailer.

    Of course, the salesperson said "Oh no, we can't match internet prices" but it turns out that given a choice between a discounted sale and no sale, they can

    Protip: You haven't got the best price until the salesperson has sheepishly had to ask the manager for authority twice.

    • Re:I did this (Score:5, Insightful)

      by skgrey (1412883) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:35AM (#34586852)
      I used my iPhone and the Red Laser app to scan all the toys my kids wanted. It shows all the prices for the stores around me, as well as online. I got approached by at least one sales person asking me what I was doing, and Toys R Us specifically was not happy. I got approached by a floor manager after the sales person approached me, and he asked to see the app. He looked none too happy. Why in the world would I not check if I had the ability??
      • Re:I did this (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DigiShaman (671371) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:57AM (#34587182) Homepage

        I'm willing to bet that while one product is cheaper at one store, another may be more expensive. It could be a washout when it's all said and done shopping. If I was a sales manager, I would be offering some incentive to my customers to do all their shopping at my store at once. The more they spend, the greater their savings. I'm willing to bet it would keep people from playing the numbers game with you, and who want's to bounce around stores just to save a few bucks on a toy anyways?

        • Re:I did this (Score:4, Interesting)

          by DavidTC (10147) <.slas45dxsvadiv. ... . .neverbox.com.> on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:39AM (#34587848) Homepage

          If I was a sales manager, I would be offering some incentive to my customers to do all their shopping at my store at once. The more they spend, the greater their savings.

          See, that's what's gone away: Any reason for customers to have store loyalty.

          It used to be that you could actually get discounts. Nowadays, they can offer discounts for exactly one reason: price matching.

          Sure, there are those customer loyalty cards, but the free ones are clearly just privacy-invading discounts that should already exist. You're not given a discount for being a 'good customers'.

          The ones you have to buy, like bookstore ones, are a manual discount, which is just as idiotic. Those things should be offered free after someone's bought $30 or whatever. Or, even better, offered free, but with no discount, and as you buy stuff using them the discount gets larger and larger.

          The only place you get actual discounts for actually buying stuff are those places that punch the goofy cards, which appear to somehow be the lowest rung of discounting. (And airlines have some sort of frequent flying thing too, which I don't know much about. Normally people when talking about 'frequent flyer' inexplicably mean 'stuff out credit card company gave us', but I'm sure there's some actual rewards from flying a lot.)

          Other than that, no one offers any sort of discount, which is ironic, because they have more ability to track you than ever, and hence could easily offer customers discounts. They don't even need cards. At checkout: 'I see you've purchased more than $80 this month. If you total more than $100 by the 31st, you get $10 off, so next time you're here, you can get $20 and only pay $10.'

          You're doing it backwards, you idiotic resellers. Stop invading privacy against the customer's wishes. Just offer them an actual discount for loyalty, and actual discount based on them being good customers, not a pretend one by marking up prices and then pretending to 'discount' them because someone filled out a stupid card, which people see straight through and, um, doesn't encourage any loyalty. At that point, people will start making sure that you know how much they've bought there. You set something like that up, and forget needing the customer cards...people will deliberately link their credit cards if they're using multiple ones, and tell you their actual name and address. (Not the 80% fake address the 'customer loyalty' cards have.)

          And that's just the 'general discount'. It used to be that if you bought a X, you could get X accessories for cheaper at the time, which encouraged people to buy all their stuff at once. Now half the time X is a loss leader and the accessories are marked up 300%. (I'm looking at you, Best Buy.) This is insane.

          The only store that gets any sort of store loyalty from me is Barnes and Noble, because I'm afraid if I don't, actual physical bookstores will cease to exist. B&N has it sorta right, in that they keep mailing me coupons (Which I actually do use.), but it seems they're just mailing them because I'm a member, and not because I've bought things per se.

          Until companies start actually rewarding actual purchasing and actual loyalty, there is absolutely no reason for customers to be loyal.

      • Re:I did this (Score:5, Informative)

        by rjstanford (69735) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:42AM (#34587880) Homepage Journal

        I used my iPhone and the Red Laser app to scan all the toys my kids wanted. It shows all the prices for the stores around me, as well as online. I got approached by at least one sales person asking me what I was doing, and Toys R Us specifically was not happy. I got approached by a floor manager after the sales person approached me, and he asked to see the app. He looked none too happy. Why in the world would I not check if I had the ability??

        Can you at least understand why he wasn't happy? If you want to use his floor space, play with his display models, and take advantage of all the other "free" services a bricks and mortar store provides, you should make your purchases there as well. Otherwise, do your research online and buy wherever is cheapest - that's fine too. Its just common decency.

        • Re:I did this (Score:5, Insightful)

          by raodin (708903) on Friday December 17, 2010 @02:01PM (#34590762)

          Look, people shop around, they did before the internet, and they did before mobile phones. There is nothing any retailer can do to stop this.

          Being grumpy at a customer for using the tools at their disposal to shop around more efficiently is simply driving that customer away. Treating your customer with respect, on the other hand, *might* make you a sale even if your prices aren't the absolute lowest.

          A sales person calling over a supervisor to bother a guest in their store for price shopping is extremely disrespectful. You call over a manager for suspicious activities, or clear violations of posted store polices (non-service pets, inappropriate clothing) NOT because you are worried the customer might find out you don't have the lowest price and go shop elsewhere. They might have passed on a product at your store due to price, but now they almost certainly will because you harassed them. How is that a win for your store?

    • and I am going to try it again this year. Amazing what prices they will match when it comes to getting a sale. This year I need two 42 LCD televisions, they want 699 whereas I can get them from a certain major online retailer wants 599 and others 589 with no tax or shipping costs.

      Will be curious what price they will go down to.

  • Uniqueness (Score:4, Informative)

    by truthsearch (249536) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:31AM (#34586792) Homepage Journal

    Most stores sell the same things that are found everywhere. The most profitable stores are often specialty, where there's little option to find a product elsewhere. In the long run we might see more manufacturer stores, bypassing the generic middlemen. E.g., Apple.

  • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:32AM (#34586810) Journal

    Awww. Store can't bamboozle poor customers with flashy displays anymore?

  • Books (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:36AM (#34586870)

    If I walk into a store and something is $30 and it's $27 online. I'll probably just buy it right there.

    But the other day I went to get a book from Borders and it was $30 in the store and $15 online. For that I'll just buy it when I get home.

    At Barnes & Noble the in store price for something like Rosetta Stone is $600, but it's $450 online.

    (I think everything is just 20 to 30% more expensive in the store.. regardless of size/weight/etc.

    • Re:Books (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:42AM (#34586940) Journal

      This reminds me of the results of a survey. People were asked "If you found out that this $100 piece of software were only $50 across town, would you leave this store, drive across town and buy it cheaper?" The answer was almost always less. Others were asked "If you found out that this $1,000 computer were available for $950 across town, would you leave this store and by it cheaper?" Fewer than half said yes.

      So why is the value of our time less for more expensive products? It seems people are fundamentally illogical. Yes, I know... I must be new here.

      • Re:Books (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mdarksbane (587589) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:50AM (#34587066)

        People working with large numbers deal in percentages and proportions. It's how our monkey brains try to handle values that are so much larger than anything we were designed for.

        There's also the question of worth. Something that is only worth $50 might not be worth a purchase of $100, but something that is worth $950 most likely is probably still worth $1000 to someone.

        This is, of course, why the most efficient use of your time for most people is in negotiating a better deal on your car or your house.

      • by Chrisq (894406)
        Its a well known affect. Logically you should worry as much about saving £50 when negotiating a house sale as when buying a £100 piece of software, but few people do. It also leads to the "marginal extra" situation which makes people buy more extras when making a big purchase. If I offered someone on the street a set of mud flaps for £50 and alloy wheels for £500 most would say no - but many would say "I might as well have the trim" when buying a £15,000 car!
        • Re:Books (Score:4, Informative)

          by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:10AM (#34587396) Journal

          You are 100% spot on. Going through a marketing class you see folks have spent years studying these psychological facets and know how to take advantage of them. As humans, we are not 100% rational, present company included.

          I tend to be more rational and less materialistic than most (more of my money goes to schooling and charity than I spend on everything else combined) yet I see myself fall into some of these traps.

          So while I never intend to be in marketing, it is good to know how the enemy thinks :)

      • by Sancho (17056) *

        Personally, I don't want to be taken for a ride. In the first case, the store has over 100% markup, which offends me if another store is able to sell it at a much lower price. I'm not only likely to go to that other store, but I'm likely to stop shopping at the first one.

        It's not about the flat savings, it's about overcharging.

      • I'll chip in the the "rationality of the decision". Someone deciding whether to change their habits on $50 vs $100 is indicating they are concerned with the overall effect of the purchase on their budget. Someone making a capital investment of $1000 for a computer shouldn't be worrying about where their next necessity purchase is coming from. It's like the famous joke "I'll take 2 Angus Bacon Cheeseburger meals, supersized, but make the drinks diet coke because I'm on a diet".

    • pfft.. order it standing there?

  • It sounds like technology is enabling us to get closer & closer to a perfect market [wikipedia.org].
  • Best buy has qr codes on a lot of their price tags. How do they figure people to use those without a smartphone.

    • They also have an official best buy android app. I guess they are trying to lure the wanna-be nerds who dont know how horrible their prices are.
  • by suso (153703) *

    Wouldn't it be ironic if later stores started banning phone use in stores?

    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Yeah, what's next? Movie theaters banning bringing food and drinks from your home? Hollywood telling us that we can't format-shift the DVDs we buy?

  • by rwv (1636355) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:38AM (#34586886) Homepage Journal

    Stores can no longer use tricks to get me to spend my money there, and I'm okay with that.

    I actually bought an iPod case at Best Buy the other day for $11 knowing it was available on Amazon for $7. The brick-and-mortar shopping experience is still worth it if I want something now or doing what to worry about paying for shipping (usually I buy *more* than I need at Amazon for small purchases to qualify for free shipping).

    At the end of the day, the customer wins. The best stores win. And crappy stores lose. This is a good thing.

  • What are these "stores" that you speak of? Some quaint little novelty from days of yore?
  • Rooting for all the stores that can't compete on price to go out of business is rooting for Wal-Mart.
  • Self Price Match (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Cemu (968469) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:49AM (#34587034)
    I recently shopped at both Best Buy and Sears and discovered that their online store sale prices were $80 and $70 cheaper than what their brick and mortar store could offer. I showed a sales member their store's site on my phone but it turns out that they can't match their own prices. I do, however, like both stores' website's option to buy now and pickup in the store. Yep, I bought the item online while in the store and just walked over to customer service and picked it up 10 minutes later.
    • by AndrewNeo (979708)

      Maybe you should have tried a little harder. Best Buy is supposed to match their website prices. There was a huge ordeal a while back on how their in-store computers were showing different prices on their own website so they didn't have to match the lower price on the internet facing one.

  • by Yvan256 (722131) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:49AM (#34587046) Homepage Journal

    Yes it may be cheaper online, but don't forget to add the shipping cost. Not all places offer free shipping and sometimes there's a minimum amount to spend to get the free shipping, etc. Don't forget cross-border delays and charges or you'll be shockingly sorry. Especially those brokerage fees, which often are more than the shipping cost added with the customs fees.

    But where the physical retail stores still have the advantage is in how fast you're getting what you want, if they have it in stock.

    With these two things in mind, the only difference is that you can compare prices with other nearby physical stores without actually having to drive there to check the prices. The real competition is still the other stores, nothing really changed if you want something "right now".

  • I got on the website, researched exactly the TV I wanted, checked stock online, and headed in to actually buy the thing. It was a 42 inch LDC for a very nice price, and they had eleven of them in the store. When I arrived in the department, I couldn't find any on display. I found the 42 inch LED, but it was close to $200 higher. I asked the sales guy, and he said they didn't have the other one, but the LED as better anyway. I made him look it up in the computer. He wasn't happy, but I eventually got t

  • by JavaBear (9872) on Friday December 17, 2010 @09:54AM (#34587124)

    "We are afraid now that customers can figure out we are cheating them with false advertising, before we manage to snatch their money."

  • Devil's advocate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:00AM (#34587212) Homepage

    It's a good thing to give the customers more transparency in who they do business with, but I am concerned that this will reduce competition even further to price warfare. Quality, safety, environmental sustainability and the welfare of employees may take even more of a backseat than it already does.

    Needless to say, this transparency is not the root cause or a bad thing. However, with shoppers caring more about price than anything else, it is vital to regulate industry and retail to ensure that companies do not rape their people and the environment to stay competitive.

  • by OzPeter (195038) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:10AM (#34587400)
    Some stores seem to think that the customers are downright stupid. I have seen this before personally (but not recently): Last Black Friday a friend reported that the sale price on some stuff had gone *up* during the sale.
  • by tedhiltonhead (654502) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:36AM (#34587804)

    I have, on a couple occasions, used my smartphone to price-compare when in a retail store. Both times were at local, non-chain businesses. I like to visit a small shop when possible, because usually the owner or manager is present.

    On both occasions, I very politely explained "Hi, I like this item and am hoping to buy it here. I was able to use my smartphone to compare prices. Some retailers will price-match Amazon (etc), who has this for $X. I can show you if you like. Would you be willing to match that price please?"

    Now, here's the thing. I get that small businesses don't get the same wholesale pricing as Amazon. I'm not really demanding an Amazon price match. If they weren't willing to budge at all (especially if it's more than a 10% difference), it's possible I would walk. But, even if they met me halfway, I would still be happy to do business with them.

    I think the idea of always paying the "asking price" is a very American cultural phenomenon. In Turkey, for example, it is literally expected that a customer will haggle for at least a 10% discount. It never hurts to ask, politely!

  • by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Friday December 17, 2010 @10:48AM (#34587978)

    You can't find everything online, or discern it from all the other unwanted crap that shows up in a search for a popular high-turnover product category.

    Try finding a particular Sony camcorder battery online. All too often you'll get flooded with wrong models, crappy knockoffs, and otherwise have difficulty finding what you want. Easier to walk into a big-box store and pay a bit more - you can confirm its not a POS cheat, and can return it pronto if it is.

    A smart retailer will recognize what customers want, want now, and will have trouble locating online. Yes, the nature of brick-and-mortar must change ... for the better.

  • Shops - Showrooms (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Confuse Ed (59383) <edmund&greenius,ltd,uk> on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:04AM (#34588240) Homepage

    Are we part way through a transition from shops being where you both browse / research products and purchase them, to separating these two phases of the shopping process.

    The way I see it there is still a need for bricks & morter 'showrooms' where you can go and compare products side-by-side or even try them out in real life : e.g when buying a netbook / laptop, I always go to the local PC world or similar to try out the different keyboards and see how the displays look.

    However to make the purchase, it is clearly more efficient and therefore cheaper to sell through either giant mail-order only warehouses (e.g. order from amazon, or order direct from the manufacturer) or something like Argos for when you want to be able to collect it yourself same-day.

    The problem is how the showrooms get payed for? will we move instead to individual manfactures paying for showpiece storefronts (maybe Apple stores already are this? do they expect to make a profit on on-store sales, or are they just giant adverts driving their sales through other channels?)

    The current middle-ground that retailers seem to be using is the online 'reserve and collect' - but they still tend to be keeping the much of their stock on the shelves rather than having it all more efficiently stacked away in a warehouse out the back.

  • by tixxit (1107127) on Friday December 17, 2010 @11:06AM (#34588286)

    I'm in the market for a new TV, but haven't done any research. I see a TV in BestBuy that is on sale, compare the price to other stores, see it actually is a good price, then buy it. If I didn't have my smart phone, I would've gone home and did some research first, rather than buy it right there. That means I'm out of the store, and that most likely means a lost sale for them.

    Similarly, I was at a (plant) nursery this last spring. I had the impulse to buy some plants for my house, but since I have a cat, I wanted to make sure I didn't buy a plant that was poisonous to cats. I whipped out my phone, went on the web, and researched the plants I liked, one-by-one, to find the ones that were cat safe. In the end I bought $100 worth of plants. If I didn't have my smart phone, then I wouldn't have bought anything.

  • by esobofh (138133) <khg AT telus DOT net> on Friday December 17, 2010 @12:47PM (#34589734)

    Indeed, this is exactly how i shop. In Canada, the largest book chain is Chapters/Indigo - and they have a distinct error in strategy; they have made it policy to only sell books at the publishers recommended or listed price on the book. Now, everyone else in the book business sells at a discount, or with sales, etc., but not them - and another critical error, is that they won't match prices. So while i'm in their store, enjoying their starbucks coffee and free wifi while parusing their shelves, i'm logged into amazon.com (in the US) and "adding to cart" all the books i like. - before i've left chapters, i've ordered all the books i like from amazon at a huge discount (sometimes 50%) and have already received their order confirmation. It's great! although, not so good for chapters.

    evolve or die!

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