By Richard Ouyang, PepperDigital
Shopping for TV’s last week I spent a fair amount of time at Best Buy perusing the (what seemed like) hundreds of TV options. I scanned QR and bar codes with app readers and scanners on my iPhone. I compared models and validated the research I’d already done online.
As I looked over the new smart TV’s, it occurred to me that cable was in real trouble. The whole “Cut the Cord” movement which has been gaining steam for years was suddenly a near future reality. Wireless TV with apps installed like Netflix (online) gave me all you can eat TV with no commercials. What joy! I’d already caught up on years of great TV with my current Apple TV set up – and as much as I’d miss a gadget – it’s one less device. Oh cable – you’re going to have to charge for the amount of data coming through the pipe with this new TV device. No doubt my bill will go up, but….it’s worth it for no commercials.
Speaking of cutting cords and consumer choice – this experience also introduced me to the term “Showrooming.” Basically, Amazon got it right. Provide a mobile app that scans manufacturers barcodes (when they’re not covered with store labels) and provide competitive pricing options. If the store doesn’t match the price, then click and buy from your phone. An added bonus, it gets delivered to my door. Thanks for brick and mortar store experience – but if you ignore me – I’ve got options. Power to the…Web! In this day and age, I’d expect a struggling retailer, like Best Buy, would be more vigilant to protect their moniker “Best Buy” and be doubly sure the customer (me) was happy. Besides, I doubt there’s that much margin on that TV anyway.
As a Peppercommer, I pondered my Audience Experience (a Peppercom specialty) and how I approached my purchasing decision. Would I have paid the tax, struggled to carry the cumbersome box out the door, waited for 15 minutes for the one cab in NYC that would stop to pick me and a big box to drive me six blocks to my front door? Yes – instant gratification, but only if Best Buy had stood up to their brand promise. But now I wait (notice I’m leaving the word “patiently” out of this sentence), anticipating the weekend when I can sit in front of my new screen and watch more TV. Yes, I would wait to fulfill my TV desire rather than pay $30 more (plus tax). The showroom experience changed my ultimate point of purchase.
Retailers like Best Buy and Target are trying to solve the problem of showrooming by developing exclusive products available “only at…” This has been a tried and true tactic, but unless it’s truly an exclusive product (such as a designer label) are you really going to pay more for a product (in this case a TV) if all the tech requirements and options and user reviews meet your standards? I think not. Technology is becoming disposable because there is so much innovation in the space. It’s certainly more about quality and performance of the technology and (sometimes) the in-store shopping experience. The world of “e-commerce” no longer has the “e” – it’s just commerce – and retailers need to understand that from the customer’s perspective.
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