Showrooming: The Good, The Bad, and How Digital Marketers can Use It to Their Advantage

While standing in your store, a customer is thinking about purchasing your product. However, before making the final decision, they decide to take one last step: do a bit more research on their smartphone. In seconds, they can view dozens of product reviews and competitor pricing, some of which is lower than your store. The result? Lost sales.

This process is called “showrooming”, and 40 percent of Americans engage in this behavior, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll. In fact, by 2015 it will increase from 59 million people in 2013 to 78 million people. Oftentimes, this behavior drives consumers away from brick-and-mortar purchases, and leads them to online retailers offering lower prices, shopping deals and free shipping.

Deal seekers are looking to level the playing field, and quite honestly, they’re doing an excellent job. But as a digital marketer, what’s the best course of action – fight it or adapt?

Showrooming is Here to Stay

No doubt, showrooming is on the rise, but for one Australian-based store, they had enough. Store management made the bold decision to start charging customers $5 just to walk through the doors. The store made headlines, and it faced backlash and criticism.

If you can’t fight showrooming, what can you do? First, understand why customers are showrooming. What do they want that you aren’t providing at the store, and how can you make their experience better? The majority of cases fit into one of four scenarios:

  • Seeking the best price
  • Looking for coupons
  • Need product reviews
  • Simply want more information
 

Once you understand what customers are searching for, and why they’re searching in the first place, you can employ strategies to recapture loyalty, and ultimately convert sales.

Leveraging Showrooming to Your Advantage

While fighting showrooming can sink a business, leveraging the behavior positions you for growth. Here are a few tips for using showrooming to your advantage:

  • Price match. Last year, Target made the surprising announcement they would start price matching online competitors – even the big ones, like Amazon. Now this might not work for every business, depending on where your price points are, but it’s something to consider.
  • Create a mobile-optimized site. Direct customers to your own mobile site and app through in-store Wi-Fi, where you can offer product information and reviews. This reduces the likelihood that a customer will land on a competitor’s site. Make sure that your site is mobile-optimized so that customers get a rich experience whether they are on a PC, tablet or smartphone. Custom mobile apps are also a great way to stay in front of customers.
  • Leverage PPC. If customers are turning to Google to look for coupons, stores can use mobile search and PPC campaigns to appeal to shoppers in the local area, and “steal” customers from competitors.
  • Utilize social media networks. Be active on social media to not only raise brand awareness but to also engage with customers. Utilizing social media allows customers to produce genuine, real-time reviews and conversations.
  • Don’t neglect the in-store experience. Make sure your staff is trained to offer the best in-store experience possible. Ensuring a pleasant “human element” is available goes a long way, especially for customers who enjoy a traditional shopping experience.
  • Develop long-term relationships. Offer additional product support services, above-average return policies, reward programs and other incentives to encourage repeat business.
  • Keep your website up-to-date. Make sure that your website’s prices match those offered in your store and that your prices are competitive. Consider offering printable coupons and rebates that can be used in your store.
 

Moving Forward

The big brands like Best Buy, Target and Wal-Mart, among many other national and global brands are taking showrooming very seriously – and for good reason. They’re launching revamped digital marketing strategies, focused on engaging shoppers in new, innovative ways. Taking this approach gives you a shot at the $262.3 billion prize that will be spent on U.S. retail e-commerce sales this year.

Showrooming doesn’t have to be a bad thing! With the right digital marketing strategies and in-store tips your company can continue to increase sales and stand out above the rest.

03/11/2014 at 09:53

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