CNET Targets gadget buyers offline

This holiday season, Target (s TGT) will include gadget reviews from tech site CNET (s CBS) alongside 28 products in its 1,781 U.S. stores and 300 products on its website. The goal is help shoppers make gift decisions — but it might also help to prevent “showrooming,” where people check out a product in a store and then buy it at a cheaper price online.

“The goal of this is to really make purchase decisions easier during the holidays,” CNET Reviews editor-in-chief Lindsey Turrentine told Reuters, “because this is the time when a lot of people may not be purchasing for themselves.” Target had tested the program in some stores this spring.

Reuters explains the product selection:

Now, 28 items — ranging in price from $19.99 to $1,399.99 — will be highlighted with 5-star reviews that CNET writes. Selections were made based on the products’ ease of use, style and value, CNET and Target said.

The products selected include cameras from Samsung, Nikon, Fujifilm and Canon. Barnes & Noble Inc’s Nook Simple Touch with GlowLight was chosen as the best e-reader for reading in the dark, while Apple’s iPad was named the best tablet.

Nintendo’s DSi was picked as the best gaming system for under $100 and Sony’s PS3 was named the best all-in-one gaming and entertainment system.

The in-store reviews will include QR codes that take shoppers online to read the full product review at According to the release, “CNET Editors’ Picks for Target will also be promoted on the electronics’ homepage where guests can access product reviews under the ‘Expert Review’ tab found on each product’s page.” And “guests can visit to read CNET editors’ reviews on more than 300 devices, and they’ll find Target’s circular promotions featured within the Marketplace section, updated weekly.”

Keeping shoppers in Target

Target’s in-store reviews could help persuade browsing shoppers to simply make a purchase on the spot — and could prevent them from pulling out their smartphones to get more info (those QR codes aside). Imagine this: A shopper sees a digital camera on a Target shelf and thinks it looks good — but may want to know more about it before making a big purchase. So she pulls out her phone and types in the camera model, or scans its barcode with a price check app. Her phone might pull up a lower online price from a Target competitor, so soon she’s leaving the store without that camera in her cart. The CNET 5-star reviews, however, could provide undecided shoppers with just enough information to make the purchase then and there — and that’s exactly what Target wants.

Photo courtesy of Flickr / Kevin Dooley