It must be hard for a store manager to explain to one person why he or she doesn't deserve that pair of Louboutins at a discount. Now, imagine that manager trying to explain that to another 19 people … at the same time. It's called flash-mob shopping.
Though China has been doing this for ages, it's a mix of high-tech (web searching, crowd-sourcing, and community building) and low-tech strong-arming techniques (ganging up on store managers) to save money on popular products.
"So how does flash-mob shopping work? Say you'd like to buy a new camera. Canon. Grey. With a 2.5-inch Articulating LCD. You'd do a Google (or if you're Chinese, Baidu) search for other people who want the same item. You might come across a dozen "team buying" websites like "www.020tgw.com," which you would browse through to find out when a group is meeting up with store managers to haggle for a fair price.
You would then go to a shop downtown with 20 or so other folks. When the manager comes out, you might spend an hour (or two) explaining why you deserve 50 RMB off the price and a new leather camera pouch as an added perk. The suit-and-tie manager may or may not give in, but if he does, you'll know it's because you brought a mob over to the store and used crowd-sourcing (in the most literal sense) to leverage your strike price."
I'm sure this would make store associates regret the quick technological advancement of social media very, very quickly.
Source: SF Chronicle
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