It used to be that when someone was searching for a long-term durable good like furniture, they would drive around to all the stores in town. They would compare the items, try to negotiate the price down, even make several trips back and forth to make sure they were getting the best deal. That was until about ten years ago when two things happened: 1. Gas prices increased and 2. The Internet became a resource that educates consumers and gives them options.
Retailers now talk to customers every day in their store who found them online. What's amazing is that it's not a young audience only. People in their 80's are coming in, taking pictures with their cell phone so they can remember what they looked at. Why? So they can go home and shop online. In furniture the trend seems to be that the average customer begins to shops casually online, then finds a local store, then visits the local store. From there this customer has two options:
I'm going to select from this store that I'm in
I like what I'm seeing, I'm going home to find it online for less(hopefully).
As a retailer I know have to consider this with each customer by doing 3 things.
Make sure that my prices are lower than all the other online competition
Provide an amazing level of service so that the customer would rather buy from me
Have an online store as well, that way if the customer does go home to shop online, they find that you're the best price in the eCommerce world as well. If all three are the case, then the customer has little reason to buy elsewhere.
So if you are the buyer, you may not realize just how much retailers compete for your purchase. Because of the ways you have changed your shopping habits, you are reaping the rewards of competition and finding things at a lower price.