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The showrooming trend and how it’s affecting Spokane’s retailers

We spent some time trying to describe the reactions of local retailers to the trend called showrooming. Today's news story touches on that trend, describing showrooming as the use of smartphone by consumers to shop a store and find the best price (either in-store or online or with another store).

Many local retailers who were regionally based don't see a lot of showrooming. Hasting's, for instance, hardly ever sees it, a company spokesman said. We found the same at Barnes & Noble, even though we didn't spend a large amount of time in the store looking for instances.

Stores like Costco and Walmart don't see it a lot either, as showroomers typically are trying to leverage an online price to convince the local store manager to match or beat the online price. In Walmarts and Costcos, the prices don't change that way;  as managers there constantly see prices in their stores changed by headquarters as the market dictates.

We did talk with the foks at Huppins and at national chain Best Buy. Both companies acknowledge seeing plenty of showrooming. Both say they've learned that showroomers are customers waiting to buy, and they respond accordingly.

Our daily story is premium-content, meaning you need a Spokesman.com subscription to read it. However, if you search for “Spokesman.com and Showrooming,” your Google result should let you in to the full article on the traditional free-pass basis.

The graphic here is by way of Aprimo, a mobile technology consulting company. Click the graphic to see a larger version.

Repeat Best Buy pest charged w/ felony

A 19-time felon banned from Best Buy allegedly returned to the store 13 times in seven months, leading to a slew of felony burglary charges.

Police arrested William Steven Neis, 49, at his apartment at 1119 W. 11th Street on Jan. 25.

Officers had responded to north Spokane Best Buy Jan. 13 after employees said a shoplifter “has been harassing them and blatantly stealing things from them in full view for months,” according to the Spokane Police Department.

Best Buy policy prohibits employees from physically contacting theft suspects. Police believe Neis knew of this policy and continued to shoplift because of it.

Neis is believed to have stolen more than $5,000 in items from the store on 13 occasions between May and December last year., police say.

Neis was permanently banned from he store in July 2010. Spokane County prosecutors charged him with 13 counts second-degree burglary last week unlawfully entering the store.

Officers Dusty Howe and Stephanie Kennedy “spent a full week locating Neis” and went to Best Buy on their day off to continue the investigation, police say.

Neis remains in jail on $19,500, as well as $3,500 bond for misdemeanor assault and theft charges.

Best Buy will focus online, but also add more mobile phone outlets

Best Buy Co., Inc. says it sees a big bright future in online sales.

The Eden, Minn.-based electronics and appliance retailer announced it plans to double web sales to $4 billion in five years. At the same time, it expects to reduce the bricks-and-mortar square footage of its building during the same time.

But not all the growth will be solely online. A recent visit by CEO Brian Dunn with Wall Street investors revealed Best Buy is also eager to open more stores focused on selling mobile phones and service plans.

The company reports that 60 percent of Best Buy items bought were researched online; about 40 percent of web purchases are picked up locally at stores.

Best Buy Executive Vice President Shari Ballard also told analysts: “There’s a new definition of convenience: the ability to interact with a company on your (the customer's) terms,” Ballard said.

 According to the web retailer Top 500 Guide, Best Buy has seen overall sales stagnate over the past year while online revenue has steadily grown.

Retailer Video Only plans to open its first area store on North Division

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Seattle-based consumer electronics retailer Video Only has purchased the former Circuit City building on North Division. Plans are underway to open its first Spokane store later this year, city permits show.

The company is a competitor of other area retailers such as Huppin's and Best Buy.

Video Only has not said when it plans to open the store, at 7701 N. Division.

The company has stores in California, Oregon and Washington.