Showrooming: “Using a retail store to view and research a product and then purchase the product for less money online.” (Source: Word Spy.)
A recent citation:
Best Buy Tuesday announced the abrupt departure of its chief executive, Brian Dunn, amid a probe into his “personal conduct.” The electronics retailer, which has been especially battered by showrooming and online competition, initially said the reason was that it needed new leadership for new challenges. – “Can Retailers Halt ‘Showrooming”?”, Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2012
Ever since “showroom” first appeared in English in the early 17th century, it has consistently meant “a room in which merchandise is displayed.” To use a retail store as a showroom is to subtract the transactional element and use the store as a viewing gallery—which is not, of course, what merchants want.
Showrooming is a recent addition to the lexicon, according to Word Spy. The earliest published citation appeared on December 23, 2011, in a New York Times story about book shoppers “who type into their smartphones while browsing in the store, and then leave,” planning “to buy the books online later — probably at a steep discount from the bookstores’ archrival, Amazon.com.”
Erin McKean included showrooming in her April 13 WSJ Week in Words column, adding in a comment: “The opposite practice is sometimes called by the acronym ROBO, which stands for ‘research online, buy offline’.” ROBO is not to be confused with another retail acronym, BOGO, which stands for “buy one, get one [free].”