Showrooming is the act of treating a bricks and mortar store as if it were simply a showroom: a place to look at and compare products, without intention to purchase on-site.
Increasingly, consumers visit physical retail stores to examine a product in person and then shop online to find a find lower price. Of particular concern to retailers is mobile showrooming, the use of smartphones and tablets to shop online while visiting the physical store. A recent study by ForeSee Results reported that 70 percent of consumers use mobile devices for comparison shopping from within retail stores, often completing an online transaction before they exit the premises.
Compared to a Web-based business, an online merchant can often offer goods for less because they have substantially lower overhead costs for things like rent, staffing and power. Retailers are trying various approaches to dealing with showrooming. Price matching and in-store shopping incentives, such as loyalty card benefits, are among the more user-friendly methods of promoting retail sales. More aggressive methods include charging a fee for entering the store, blocking cell signals on the premises and developing proprietary bar codes that don't facilitate comparison shopping.