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Retailers respond

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Traditional bricks-and-mortar retailers and online sellers continue to battle for the consumer dollar. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden outlines the latest in this head-to-head confrontation.

“Well …, it’s something called geo-fencing … I’m not making this up. And this is in a response to what’s called showrooming. Now showrooming — and we’ve talked about this — is where a shopper goes into a traditional retailer, looks at products, handles them, gets information, and then leaves and goes and buys online and saves money.

“And obviously the traditional retailers are trying to come up with ways to counter this, and one of those ways is this thing called geo-fencing. What geo-fencing is, is where a retailer has gotten some consumers who are interested in that retail to download an app — usually on their cell phone — and with that app the retailer can send information — can send e-mails or texts — to that shopper when they know that shopper is within the vicinity of the company of the outlet. And that text may say to them, ‘Hey, we’re now having a sale on a particular kind of item. If you come in, you can get that item for this lower price.’

“So, the retailer’s able to use geo-fencing to target potential buyers who are within a range of that company and then entice them to come in and buy with that sale.

“I would argue to look for much more of this activity, because I do think we are reaching a new level competition between the traditional retailers and the online sellers.”

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