With the continued rise of Internet sellers, showrooming has become a hot topic in the brick-and-mortar retail world. And as my colleague Jennifer Boncy discussed in a previous blog post, pet specialty stores may be particularly prone to the consumer practice of checking out products on the shelf, then saving a few pennies by purchasing online.
But pet stores aren't the only retailers feeling pressure from the showrooming phenomenon. Check out what one Reddit user says he found in the front window of an Austrlian specialty food retailer:
(Image via Reddit)
In a clearly misguided effort to stem or at least lessen the impact of showrooming, this retailer has begun charging customers a $5 fee just to enter the store, promising to apply the fee to any purchases made during the visit.
It cannot be overstated how horrible this strategy is. While showrooming does present a real challenge to retailers, charging customers for the privilege of shopping your aisles should never be an option on the table for a pet store. Doing so will serve only to alienate existing and potential customers. If a retailer is being particularly hard-hit by online comparison shoppers, it would be far more productive to take a good, hard look at the store's product selection, pricing and customer service to see how more browsers can be converted into loyal patrons.
Then again, I guess mimicking this type of "just looking" fee will ultimately stop customers from showrooming in your store, but that is because there won't be any customers coming into your store at all.