The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) has taken up a cause that many local business owners have recently complained about - "showrooming." Showrooming is a term that has been adopted for consumers that use local businesses in their community to try out or get information about items they want to buy, and then turn around and purchase those items from a remote or online retailer. Sometimes they even buy the exact same item while still in the store and on their mobile phone! And they do this because they have found a cheaper price by going online.
According to AMIBA, "Fulfillment centers that lack storefronts can price products so cheaply in part because they avoid overhead costs that walk-in business must pay to serve customers. In the case of retailers, however, the remote seller also is exempted from sales tax collection duties that brick-and-mortar businesses are obliged to collect in 45 states." Thus, the local retailer is instantly put at a disadvantage when consumers are armed with their smartphones.
To raise awareness for the consequences of this kind of behavior, AMIBA has launched a showrooming campaign. They offer 7 ways for businesses and communities to counter showrooming, and also offer a series of free posters that can be hung in storefronts (or anywhere you like) to encourage consumers to "buy it where you try it!"
One way we believe local businesses can counter showrooming is by "leveraging your localness." Make sure your customers understand that you are a locally-owned business rooted in their community. Your customers should also know that their money spent at your business will generate 3-4 times more economic activity in the local economy than if their money was spent online or at a national chain. It is ultimately about following the money trail, and spending your money at a giant online retailer will bring hardly any investment or economic activity to you and your community.
As AMIBA puts it, "If your local businesses are gone the next time you need them, was it [showrooming] worth it?"