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London Drugs tackles showrooming head-on with in-store iPads

Canadian retail chain London Drugs is equipping associates in its 74 stores with iPads to help consumers compare prices for electronics and other items while they are shopping.

London Drugs offers a range of products from cosmetics and vitamins to computers and television in stores that average 30,000 square feet. The iPads will initially be housed in the electronics departments of stores so staff can assist customers and help them access product reviews and compare prices.

“As part of our mobile strategy, we’ve really been trying to facilitate customers having access to information in our store locations,” said Nick Curalli, general manger of information technology, London Drugs, Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. “The iPad roll out is another step in trying to open up those communications lines with customers and making sure that all the information they need it all their fingertips.

“What the iPad allows is for associates to go to where the customer might be and give them more mobility,” he said. “It is really a sales tool.

“If customers want to do a price comparison, we are inviting store associates to help them with that. We feel pretty confident about our price position.”

Price match extension
With the growth of mobile has come concern on the part of retailers that shoppers are coming into a store to look at a product in person and using their devices to compare prices and make a purchase elsewhere, in a practice that is being called showrooming. London Drugs is addressing the issue head on by equipping store associates with iPads.

London Drugs has had free Wi-Fi in all of its stores since April 2011 in order to give customers access to the information they want while making a purchase.

The deployment of iPads to all London Drugs stores is expected to be complete by early June.

Customers will be able to use the iPads to research and display price comparisons of competitors, scan QR codes for product specifications and access third-party sites to compare multiple products. Users will also be able to review products on the spot at

“We do price match on products with other retailers where that make sense,” Mr. Curalli said. “This is simply an extension of that.

“We want the customer to make a well-informed decision,” he said. “We don’t want them to go home and decide that the decision they made in the store was not the best one.

“We want to make sure there is much more transparency. The iPads are another step in that direction – they are not the end of where we are going but they are the next step.”

The iPads will be loaded with a variety of apps such as QR code readers, product information and links to manufacturers’ sites.

London Drugs staff will be able to use the iPads to engage with customers through the company’s social media channels including the blogs Urban Lifestyle, Health, Beauty and Nerd blogs.

Store associates are also being encouraged to use the iPads in ways they determine to help customers.

Engaging shoppers
Eventually, the store expects the iPads to be used to compare kitchen appliances, book reviews and the latest cosmetics trends.

Providing customers access to product information via an iPad in store enables the customer and staff to engage in a more knowledgeable discussion about a product because they can access online research.

“Our goals are to take another step toward sharing more information with our customers in our stores so they can make the right buying decision,” Mr. Curalli said.

“We believe that more and more customers will be using mobile vehicles to make decisions, to make purchases,” he said. “We are keeping a close eye on where we need to expand.”