‘Showrooming’ is something that’s having a big effect in the camera equipment industry and something that many brick-and-mortar retailers are trying to address. It’s when consumers walk into a store not with the intention of actually purchasing a camera or lens, but instead to play around with them and evaluate them in person before making the actual purchase for a lower price online.
One store over in Brisbane, Australia has come up with a novel strategy (but not so consumer friendly) for combatting showrooming. To ensure that only customers looking to purchase products walk through their doors, the store is charging a $5 fee just to browse its wares.
There has been a high volume of people who use this store as a reference and then purchase goods elsewhere […] This policy is in line with many other clothing, shoe and electronic stores who are also facing the same issue.
We have yet to hear of a single camera shop that has a similar policy (let us know if you know of one), and we have a feeling that implementing such a fee would likely not go over very well with photographers.
Matt Brownell over at Daily Finance writes that it’s “the most misguided strategy we’ve seen for dealing with showrooming,” saying:
While it’s undoubtedly frustrating to have people use your store as a showroom just so they can buy the same goods online, imposing a cover charge is hardly the ideal solution. The goal of any retailer should be to impress customers with competitive pricing and great customer service — not treat their customers with suspicion and hostility from the moment they walk in the door.
That approach won’t just keep the showroomers away, either — it’s inevitably going to turn off a lot of potential customers who had no intention of showrooming, but aren’t about to step into a store that forces them to pay an entrance fee if they don’t find anything they like.
Brownell also notes that at least one shoe store has tried charging a $20 “fitting fee.” What would the equivalent for a camera shop be? Charging customers per actuation shot on the demo camera models?