Best Buy battles "showrooming" with internet price-matching

Best Buy will match online pricing during the holiday season, so as to reduce the impact of "showrooming" where would-be buyers play with products in-store but then order them from cheaper internet vendors. Meanwhile, free home delivery will be offered for products currently out of stock, sources speaking to the WSJ claim, though it's possible that Best Buy may exclude some items from the price matching program, which is still being worked out.

Like other retailers, Best Buy has seen a growth in shoppers who come to brick & mortar stores to browse through and play with the physical products on display, but then fail to actually complete a transaction. Instead, having used that hands-on experience to settle on a specific product, they buy it online at reduced rates from retailers without the costs of maintaining stores and sales teams that Best Buy must cover.

The process is known as "showrooming," though Best Buy has argued that it is not such a significant problem as analysts have suggested. The company's own estimates suggest that the number of "showrooming" customers using its stores are in the mid-teens, having seen a rise of roughly 3-percent over the past 24-months.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to increase [our] close rate" Best Buy spokesperson Matthew Furman said, referring to the roughly 40-percent of shoppers who browse the store but leave without making a purchase. Back in July, the company revealed plans to borrow store strategy from Apple with, among other things, a "Solution Central" help desk in the center.

Nonetheless, Best Buy VP of consumer insights Bill Hoffman insists that showrooming is "still very low" in terms of the risks to overall profit. "We need to pay attention to it" he concedes, however, and the online price-match policy will go some way to addressing it. It's unclear whether the scheme will be a one-time promotion during the holidays, or if it will continue.