Going out shopping? You'd be dumb to leave home without your smartphone

Use it to compare prices, read reviews and haggle in physical stores. Here comes the Bazaar Economy! Some people call it "showrooming."
Written by Mark Halper, Contributor
Smartphone Money IntelFreePress Flickr.jpg
Don't leave home without it: This device could save you money.
Anyone who has ever haggled for a better price at a bazaar probably knows the frustration of not being able to even attempt bargaining at traditional brick-and-mortar shops.

But things could soon change, now that a new smartphone-based trend called "showrooming" is sweeping the retail world.

Best Buy Clive Darra Flickr.jpg
You could turn this place into a veritable Moroccan kasbah.
 "Showrooming" is the practice of using Internet-connected smartphones to check other retailers' prices and to read reviews while in or among physical world stores. 

In the U.K., it's getting to be as much of a national pastime as going out for fish and chips, if you believe the joint findings of electronic retail association IMRG and a group called eDigitalResearch. They report:

"Almost half (47%) of smartphone owners are now using their mobile devices to ‘showroom’ and browse for an item whilst out shopping... Smartphone owners are also increasingly using their mobiles to read customer or product reviews when in-store (47%) as well as price checking other retailer’s websites (39%). 29% of smartphone owners have also used their mobile to purchase or order a product if an item was out of stock in store."

Yes, Brits use the word "whilst." Quaint, isn't it? But I digress.

Full disclosure: I live in the U.K., and I'm among the 53 percent of people who have not gone a-showrooming. 

But I like the sound of it. I'll try it.  First I might have to upgrade from my BlackBerry, a device which, as much as I like it, goes catatonic whenever it gets near the Internet.

Once I resolve that situation, I'll be more forceful in my attempts to strike deals with uniformed sales clerks. Yes, I will turn computer and bike shops, department stores, clothing boutiques, sporting goods giants, you name it, into nothing more than a sheesha stall at the kasbah.

Hail showrooming! Bring on the Bazaar Economy!

Photo of phone is from IntelFreePress. Best Buy from Clive Darra. Both via Flickr

How retailers can respond to "showrooming":

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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