We’ve all seen it. We’ve all done it. We call it showrooming: examining merchandise in a retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item. Although it hasn’t been around for very long, showrooming has quickly become a common practice among shoppers—and a source of concern for brick-and-mortar retailers. After all, you might believe that if a shopper finds a lower price online for a product in your store, you’ll likely lose the sale. But is it really that simple?
Not quite. Of course, the reality is that showrooming is here to stay, so it’s important to acknowledge and accept it. However, you can actually minimize its impact and even use it to your advantage. And there are several ways to do this.
1) Provide savvy, attentive, and personable service. Shopping in brick-and-mortar stores nowadays is becoming less of a functional necessity and more of a leisure activity. E-commerce can be credited with that shift since it enables the quick-and-easy search and purchase of products online. People tend to go into stores, on the other hand, because they enjoy the shopping experience, especially for the merchandising and selection that they can see and touch. But a crucial aspect of the in-store experience that shoppers don’t get online is service. On the surface, this may seem like a minor counterpoint to the convenience and competitive pricing of online retail. But the difference lies in the quality of your service. Being deeply informed about your products and truly engaged with your customers has a profound effect on their shopping experience. The result is a positive association with your brand, which will keep them coming back to your store.
2) Articulate and build trust in your brand. Even though shoppers can easily research products and prices online, the nearly unlimited choice can be overwhelming. Presenting your customers with a clear and professionally vetted selection of product choices helps them cut through the noise. It also positions your brand as guide they can trust and depend on. And that’s key. Because with trust comes loyalty and a respect for the relationship they form with your brand, allowing you maintain your value. Another way to build customer trust is to synthesize your brand experience through an omnichannel strategy. In short, this means integrating your online activity with your in-store operations. Doing so will present your customers with the cohesive shopping experience they’ve come to expect of modern retail. For more detail, see our recent blog article, Fulfilling the Promise of Omnichannel Retail.
3) Implement in-store browsing analytics and personalization. With the right technology, you can do more than just minimize the impact of showrooming—you can turn it to your advantage. Mobile in-store analytics enables you to view the online activity of shoppers in your store. Once they opt in to your guest Wi-Fi, agreeing to its terms, you can gain insights into the types of product websites most browsed, the kinds of product names frequently searched, and the social media outlets most engaged. Armed with this information, you can make changes in pricing, merchandising, or inventory to remain competitive with e-commerce retailers. What’s more, you can personalize the in-store experience. This means using the smartphones of your shoppers to offer them discounts, incentives, and services like price-checking and mobile checkout. After all, these are the advantages they’ve come to expect from online shopping. By using in-store analytics, you can give them many of the same conveniences. But unlike with e-commerce, you provide the added benefits of attentive, personable service and a close relationship with your brand.
Showrooming no longer needs to be a threat to brick-and-mortar retail. By implementing a strategy to connect more closely with your customers, you offer them a richer shopping experience. Altogether, product-savvy and personable service, articulate and dependable brand positioning, and in-store analytics technology will help you reach that goal.
For more information on how you can turn showrooming to your advantage using in-store analytics technology, see our product pages for Mobile In-Store Analytics and Personalization.