For consumers, one of the biggest hurdles to supporting local shops is the ease and convenience of online shopping. Traditionally, it was thought that online purchasing simply took dollars away from our brick and mortar stores, but there are some new and nuanced problems popping up in our age of convenience.
Showcasing is a term that is emerging among brick and mortar retailers in the information age. With the technological benefits of smartphones, many customers check out tangible merchandise in a neighborhood store, and then search online to find a better deal. Some Internet retailers like Amazon.com have actively encouraged scanning product bar codes while in a brick and mortar store to find a better price online. An article in the Austin Statesman highlights what is at stake,
"A recent survey of 8,000 consumers found that 70 percent of consumers ages 25 to 54 with smartphones use them to comparison shop. Almost 1 in 3 of those who comparison-shop with smartphones ultimately buys the product online, the Kurt Salmon report said."
While comparison shopping is not a bad practice, it's important to be aware that the shop owner who has paid for the overhead and labor necessary to display these products is exploited by the showcasing phenonemon. We may be seeking better bargains, but at times we need to realize that there is a deeper cost. The practice of showcasing jeapordizes the local businesses that support our vibrant communities.
We ask you to consider this nuance. When you make the trek to your local retailer to check prices, consider supporting your neighbor by making a convenient purchase there. You will get the product you want and service from someone who is personally accountable to you, while keeping the sales tax in our own economy, thus employing teachers, firefighters, and countless other service providers and community-builders. Now there's a true bargain!