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Showrooming: Trends & Observations

Usually, for many people all over the globe, getting ready for the holidays is a last minute affair. It was common to see people running from store to store striking items off their shopping lists. But now the same running around happens on websites, thanks to showrooming.

Showrooming is the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item. Many retailers have tried to compete with showroomers by slashing their own prices. Independent businesses, however, are advised to counter showrooming by adding value via included services and other tactics, such as making information and reviews more readily available to customers so that they might not choose to seek it out online.

Why is showrooming gaining popularity, though? Wouldn’t it be prudent as well as save time to directly order online? For many items this is the case. But certain items like apparels, shoes, etc, need to be seen and felt before they are purchased.

Maybe a customer is purchasing the first pair of shoes for their baby and they aren’t sure of the appropriate size. They want to try the shoes on their child. Or in other cases, they want to test the picture quality of a TV, or feel the construction of various home décor items. But when it comes to buying, price sensitivity is the biggest driver.

Today, the large majority knows exactly what they want. They also know that they do not need to pay more if the same item is available for less. Another fact is that many a times, customers do not want to be burdened with shopping bags. They prefer to have it home delivered.

With payment options as varied as they are, it is no wonder then that customers prefer the online ordering method. Some customers even have a buying plan that involves hitting the mall to get the inside scoop and then buying online. Others simply check their options before buying at the retail store.

So what are retailers doing to get ahead?

Big retailers have taken steps to dissuade customers from engaging in this practice. At the same time, it’s the smaller and medium size businesses that are being directly impacted. In a time when sales are down across the board, every brick and mortar that’s losing sales is suffering.

Market research is the single biggest weapon in helping reduce the showrooming trend. It’s not going to go away. As customers become more mobile and as the economy places increasing pressure on people to spend wisely, it’s important to keep in mind that this represents the direction that shopping is going. The retailers that thrive will be the ones that find a way to work with showroomers, not penalize them.

At IntelligenceNODE, we believe that there are a few measures that brick and mortar stores can take to adapt to showrooming.

-Know what your customers truly want. Find out why they’re showrooming and adjust your business model to meet their needs.

-Train your staff to recognize and approach showroomers and see how they can be of service. Emphasize benefits like immediate ability to use the item, no shipping costs, and generous return policies.

-Use incentives to get people to take action. A good incentive is a discount (e.g. 10% off) or some sort of a bonus (e.g. buys this now, get a second item half off) is a good way of grabbing customer attention.