Mobile devices have been a boon to shoppers looking to get the best deals they can, but a practice called “showrooming” — in which consumers check out items at brick-and-mortar stores before buying them for less online — is becoming a real headache for some retailers.

Several have now taken an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach and are offering apps, mobile-shopping tools and other online features that work like showrooming, but are intended to steer sales back to the physical store or its website instead of a lower-priced competitor.

For example, Walmart recently updated its iPhone app to include an “In-Store Mode” — while you’re in a Walmart, launching the app will allow you to scan bar codes for more information including price checks and customer reviews. It’ll also pull up the latest Walmart ads and discounts.

And starting next May, Target shoppers can use the Shopkick app, which racks up points — or “kicks” — every time you scan things in their stores, with company execs believing shoppers who scan merchandise are much more likely to follow through with a purchase.

Other businesses are trying similar approaches, all in an effort to combat the low prices offered by online retailers like Amazon — which benefits so much from showrooming that it even has its own app called Price Check that’s meant to be used in physical stores to compare those prices to the ones offered by Amazon.


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