tip or skip“Showrooming.” While I can’t say I’d heard the specific term before, it’s easy to understand what it’s talking about—the practice of using a physical store as a “showroom” where you can examine something and then go buy it online. This is one of the trends many pro-agency pricing comment submitters noted in their comments to the DoJ, though in the DoJ’s response it was largely referred to as “free-riding.”

As I mentioned the other day, a lot of people do “showrooming” in bookstores with their Kindles. However, it’s also long been a popular activity on smartphones for general-purpose merchandise, and last holiday season Amazon shocked the retail industry with its chutzpah by offering on-line discounts to people who scanned prices at retail stores with a price-matching app (though, ironically, these discounts covered everything except books).

But now Wired reports that a new startup wants try to to use smartphone price-comparison shopping for “good”. Tip or Skip is a “hot-or-not” style shopping game in which people compete to find the best purchasable items on a website or in a physical location, and get people to vote up their items (“tip” them) so they get perks based on the number of votes their items received. And the app will use iOS 6’s new location-aware “Passbook” feature to pop up reminders when people near a location with an item they “tipped.”

It’s a clever idea, though I personally think I might find shopping reminders more annoying than useful. (I know where to buy items I’m interested in, darnit!) And it’s not clear that this location awareness will really solve the actual problem, which is that consumers can usually find much better deals online than in their local store. But still, at least they’re trying, and that’s something, right?


  1. Thanks for the nice post about us!

    Mobile alerts are definitely new territory. If mobile alerts are advertising, consumers will turn them off. But if what alerts you is truly an agent working on your behalf, it could be terrific.

    Imagine two interesting cases. First, you are visiting a friend in NYC and going out to lunch in soho. You get an alert that something you and your spouse has tipped (e.g., indicated interest) is available at a boutique around the corner, and you go and buy that perfect gift.

    Second, you are about to head out for lunch. Your phone alerts you that two of your friends have snagged half-price groupon at a good sushi around the corner from your office.

    Even if you forgo buying the present or eating the discounted lunch, you’d probably be happy about being alerted to the opportunity.

    What do you think — annoying or valuable alerts?

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