Showrooming is in the news in a big way. In addition to yesterday's headline-making article about an Australian fine foods retailer who is charging customers to come into the store, we see today's story about a bridal store that is charging nearly $500 to shop there.
I'm flabbergasted that retailers would think this idea a good one in combatting showrooming. To me it feels more like they're combatting sales. Let's ignore the logistical problems of actually charging the $5 to walk into the store, just putting this sign in the window makes a strong argument for shoppers never to enter the store in the first place. Now, I can understand the frustration that must come with showrooming behavior. The retailer invests in very expensive assets like real estate, utilities, furniture and fixtures, employees, inventory, and outbound marketing. When these investments drive someone else's bottom line at the expense of your own, that has to be aggravating.
But while it may be satisfying in the short term to put up this sign and say, “Well, I sure showed them,” for this technique to actually increase the retailer's bottom line seems highly unlikely. In the mean time, other options are available. But retailers will need to collect facts to understand how effective their potential reponses are. That's where in-store analytics comes in. My recent article in Chain Store Age goes into the specifics of how a retailer might go about assessing showrooming risk and its optimized responses.