Home > Uncategorized > Showrooming: Friend or Foe of Brick and Mortar Retailers?

Showrooming: Friend or Foe of Brick and Mortar Retailers?

Consumers comparison shopped long before the advent of mobile technology; however, mobile technology has taken comparison shopping to an extreme and the trend of showrooming has become a real issue for many brick and mortar retailers. So much in fact that 80% of retailers expected to be impacted and store retailers are predicted to lose 5% of holiday season sales through showrooming.

Showrooming is just as it sounds. Consumers are increasingly using brick and mortar retail stores as showrooms where they can come and test out a product, but they do not have to necessarily purchase it there. While in store they can run a quick price comparison analysis on their phone or tablet and order the product elsewhere online. Showrooming is a trend that is here to stay: during the 2011 holiday season, one in four shoppers used their mobile phones to compare prices while in stores.

This is a huge problem for brick and mortar and retailers and marketers alike. “The good news is that retailers can put strategies in place to help counter the effects of showrooming by engaging showroomers actively, integrating their online and offline channels, and prioritizing their investments to counter showrooming.”

Since the start of the trend, showrooming has been a particularly big issue on Black Friday when the top concern of consumers is getting the best deal available. In an effort to combat this issue, brick and mortar retailers have begun offering deals earlier and earlier, with many starting on Thanksgiving day. Another method to combat showrooming is price matching policies, which Black Friday behemoths such as Best Buy and Target have employed. Some retailers such as Macy’s have also launched Black Friday apps where consumers can use the app in store to receive special promotions and sales.

Although showrooming presents a crucial threat to brick and mortar retailers, there are many strategies to make it work in favor of these retailers. In my opinion, the best option is for retailers to train their front-line sales force to speak to customers about the benefits of buying in their store in that instant. For example, one benefit could be an in-store service warranty. Also, let’s not forget that comparison shopping may also drive a customer to purchase the product in your store if you are offering the best price or benefits at that time. At least for now, showrooming here to stay. It is up to retailers to use showrooming to their advantage and avoid losing customers to online retailers.

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