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Showrooming Might Actually Be Good for Brick-and-Mortar Stores

by AirTightTeam on Jul 22, 2013

Are you guilty of showrooming?Raise your hand if you have ever gone to a store to test a product or to try on a piece of clothing, then ordered it online, from home, for a cheaper price. Or, if you have compared prices and purchased online, right from your mobile device, right there in the store.

If your hand is up, you are guilty of showrooming. This makes you part of a serious problem being faced by traditional brick-and-mortar stores.

This recent infographic, created by 360pi, a price intelligence and competitor monitoring company, reveals, among other statistics, that:

  • Showrooming is costing U.S. retailers $217 billion in lost sales
  • 35% of Americans regularly engage in showrooming

Showrooming Is a Wake-up Call to Brick-and-Mortar Stores

Shopping is about the shoppers -- not the store or the company.

Some of you might remember bankers’ hours, when banks were open from 10-3 Monday to Friday for the sole convenience of bankers? It took almost 100 years to turn that model on its head. Then banks began to stay open later each day and open on Saturdays. Then came the 1980s with the ultra-convenience of the ATM machine.

Just like banks shifting their operating model from the convenience of the institution to the convenience of the customer, showrooming is benefitting the customers -- so it is not going away.

“reverse- showrooming”—browsing online and then purchasing in stores

Harvard Business Review: How Pinterest Puts People In Stores

Some Retailers Are Punishing Customers for Showrooming

Showrooming is an opportunity to use the “carrot approach” to engage with potential customers Some retailers have attempted to use the stick approach to control their customers. These methods only serve to alienate customers and drive them back to shopping online -- or to other stores which are less punishing.

  • Some are considering a fitting fee to try on shoes, deducted from the bill, if purchased, according to the online journal Footwear News.
  • Some block cell phone service in their stores to prevent comparing prices online.
  • Australian gluten-free grocer, Celiac Supplies, instituted a charge of $5 for browsing.
  • Target removed Amazon’s Kindle from its shelves, because it did not want to facilitate showrooming for Amazon, in light of it introducing its Amazon price comparison app.
  • Some introduced proprietary barcodes, only readable by that store.
Retailers Should Embrace the New Shopping Model

Showrooming is an opportunity to use the carrot approach to engage with potential customers -- who are already in the store – and entice them to spend their money in the store.

1) Offer them an in-store experience that is unique and more personal than online:

Read the Pinkberry Case Study where the Wi-Fi deployment helped boost the loyalty program. Wi-Fi deployment boosts the Pinkcard loyalty program.

The biggest advantages of in-store shopping are: personal interaction; and the certainty that the fit, smell, sound, feel and other physical attributes of the items are what the customer wants.

  • Revive old-fashioned, knowledgeable, one-on-one customer service.
  • Empower sales associates with on-the-spot access to inventory and specification information.
  • Arm associates with tablets to process purchases so customers do not have to wait in line.
  • Put QR codes on item tags or displays to provide more information.
  • Make in-store displays informative, appealing and entertaining.
  • Offer in-store events such as live tutorials, authors speaking at bookstores or athletes signing autographs at sports stores.
  • Offer food, drinks, samples – things you cannot get online.
  • Provide in-store only customer loyalty programs.

2) Use omni-channel marketing for consistent messaging and a seamless experience across all channels for merchandising, programs and promotion.

Companies are leveraging two or more channels to cross-promote purchasing and engagement activities, and in particular -- to drive customers to the physical store.

  • BestBuy and other stores offer online purchasing with in-store pickup, to avoid shipping prices and lines.
  • Target offers some in-store only items.
  • Target and BestBuy price-match with some online competitors for in-store shoppers.
  • Tablets are being used in stores to access company website for customers to search for another color or size, order it right there and have item(s) shipped to their house.

It’s a fact that women are now responsible for 85 percent of all purchasing decisions in the United States and recent research shows that they overwhelmingly prefer to shop in physical retail stores.

How Mobile Marketers Can Use Perfect Timing To Win Droves Of Female Customers via Business Insider

3) Leverage in-store Wi-Fi to interact with and engage customers.

Adding in-store Wi-Fi and the opportunity for customer toopt-in to the network offers many benefits to both the store and the shopper, among them:

  • Shopping experiences can be tailored for the shopper, based on past shopping patterns and purchases.
  • Shopper’s on-line and in-store shopping histories are merged for a complete profile.

“The sooner we drop the ‘e’ out of ‘e-commerce’ and just call it commerce, the better.” – Bob Willett

Best of the Retail Executive Summit 2013 by Joe Skorupa via @RISnewsinsights

Additional Information:

Market Research


Topics: WiFi, Analytics, Social, PCI, Smartphones, Privacy, 802.11ac, WiFi Access, Retail