February 08, 2013, 12:11 PM — The smell of the perfume, the drape of the fabric, the grain of the leather--these sensory experiences are about the only advantage that brick-and-mortar retailers have over online stores when trying to sell merchandise.
Unfortunately for traditional stores, today's shopper carries a smartphone that allows her to scan the price tag in the store and then buy the same thing online for less. The phenomenon, called "showrooming," causes store managers to harrumph about the "scan and scram" shopper.
But what if physical stores had both: the sensory experience of a boutique plus the click-click shopping efficiency and seemingly endless inventory of Amazon.com? What if a sales associate could use a mobile device to order a garment in a different color or size right when the shopper is in the dressing room?