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Walmart embraces ‘showrooming’

Walmart.com seems to have adopted the “if you can’t beat them, join them” approach to showrooming.

Showrooming, in which consumers go to a store to test and touch products before using their phones to find and order items at lower prices online, has been an obstacle facing bricks and mortar retailers.

According to an article on Wired.com, some retailers have even taken to blocking barcodes to stop the showrooming.

Not Walmart though, the world’s biggest retailer. It is actually encourage shoppers to use their smartphones in their stores.

“You’ve got to go where the customer wants you to go. We live in the age of the customer,” Walmart.com president and CEO Joel Anderson told Wired. “We’re embracing showrooming.”

Walmart is leveraging customers’ smartphones as one more way to make a sale.

And the key is to give customers reasons to use Walmart’s app while they’re in a physical store.

Walmart’s stores are “geo-fenced,” said Wire.com, so the location-aware app enters “store mode” when a customer enters through the door.

Once their phones are in store mode, customers are given an interactive version of the weekly on-sale circular for that store. Customers can see what’s new in the store and can scan bar codes with the phone’s camera for prices and lists of everything in a shopper’s cart so they know their total before getting to the checkout.

Wired.com points out that Walmart has effectively lured customer into two stores at once as the Walmart app interface lets you “flip” between the two stores–physical and digital.

So items that are in the store but out of stock can be ordered from Walmart.com with a simple “flip” over to the digital store with a tap.

Gibu Thomas, Walmart’s senior vice president of mobile and digital told Wired.com that more than 12 per cent of online sales made through Walmart’s smartphone app happen while customers are in the store, while they’re in the app’s in-store mode.

Not surprisingly, mobile is now a core part of how the retailer interacts with customers but it’s not pushing physical stores to compete against the website or mobile app.

Like other retailers, Walmart is aiming for “anytime, anywhere” in its approach to meet customers where they are instead of trying to get them to come to them.

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