November 1, 2012, 12:00 AM

Bye-bye PC, hello mobile

(Page 3 of 3)

That's why 75% of shoppers who go online to compare prices in stores buy in the store the first item they check—the on-sale TV, for instance, she said, citing data from ShopSavvy, provider of a mobile price-comparison app. But the second item? 50% buy it elsewhere, the ShopSavvy data show.

For web retailers, she said, that means, "it's not the big-screen TV where you're going to steal customers. It's the cables, DVDs, all the other stuff companies like Best Buy are trying to make money on where you have the opportunity to steal that customer away."

Some retail chains are realizing they need to act to combat showrooming, including Sears Holdings Corp., whose senior vice president and general manager for e-commerce, Imran Jooma, spoke at the mobile conference.

He described how Sears this year gave employees in 450 Sears and Kmart stores iPads and iPod Touches (devices like iPhones except they can't make calls) so that they can show customers online product information and reviews and, if the shopper decides to buy, check them out on the spot. Associates also can collect the shopper's e-mail address so that, even before she leaves the store, she can receive on her smartphone her receipt—and information about product manuals and related items.

If she doesn't purchase, Jooma said, the employee can e-mail her a recap of items she viewed, paving the way for further engagement with that shopper.

He described the Sears strategy as integrated retail that "combines the pluses of the physical world—the ability to talk to a knowledgeable sales associate, the ability to touch, feel and possibly try on the item—with the pluses of the digital world—being able to look up rich production information, compare products and look at prices. When you combine those pluses together, that's what customers are looking for."

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