Showrooming: pros and cons. How to deal with a new consumer trend
22.01.2018 10865

Showrooming: pros and cons. How to deal with a new consumer trend

Over the past few years, ordinary stores have experienced changes in consumer behavior. The proliferation of the Internet and smartphones has given rise to a new trend: customers come to stores to look at goods, feel, study, rewrite the article, photograph, check on a smartphone whether another company is selling the same product for cheaper. And then you can go and buy online. Sometimes you need to go nowhere - you can buy it directly from the store, at the shelf with the goods. This buying practice is aptly called “showrooming”: a buyer uses shopping malls and retail in general as an online seller’s showroom.

It is generally accepted that showrooming includes comparing prices in ordinary stores with offers on the Internet. But that’s not all: it also includes the study of online reviews on the goods presented in the store and the receipt of live information that cannot be found on the network. For example, the real fullness of shoes or the convenience of pads for a particular foot.

Elena Vinogradova Elena Vinogradova - an expert in sales and purchases in the fashion business. Author of a business blog for clothing, footwear and accessories stores.

Why is this happening?

Showrooms try to save themselves time and money. They do not want to go around the floors of stores in shopping centers, shoveling hundreds of models, and do not want to buy collections of last season at full cost. In addition, in retail the issue with competent sellers is often acute, so sometimes it’s easier
quickly learn your favorite thing and buy online than to beat off annoying consultants in the store. This, by the way, is one of four popular answers to the question “Why do you prefer online shopping?”

Here's what a customer wants when shopping online:

  1. Do not waste time shopping.

  2. Avoid annoying service, “steaming” unnecessary goods.

  3. Calmly see the entire range in a comfortable environment, read product reviews.

  4. Find a good deal by comparing prices.

Why are shoppers still shopping at stores? Because to make a purchase, we need important data that we can not get online. Traditional stores still have the advantage, which for many customers is the most important. A store purchase is a physical interaction with a product. You can examine it up and down, try it on, compare different sizes. Yes, the pictures on the Internet are bright and inviting, the reviews are detailed, the descriptions are colorful, but it doesn’t matter, because when buying on the Internet, you always doubt your purchase much more: quality, size, fit, color - I don’t want to get a pig in a poke ! 

What to do with the new trend of shopping behavior?

  1. Recognize that in modern conditions the practice of showrooming is inevitable, not a single retail store is safe from this phenomenon. People want to find the best products at the lowest prices.
  2. Understand that the scale of the "disaster" called "showroom" is somewhat exaggerated. Less than 10% of people use mobile phones in stores to make an online purchase. And more than half of consumers during various surveys say that it is easier for them to make a purchase in the store if they can find positive reviews for the selected product. Therefore, smartphones still help retailers more than harm them.
  3. Stop considering showrooming a threat to business; in reality, even such a model of customer behavior can be used to your advantage.

How to understand that you are "showroom"?

Read customer traffic and measure sales conversion, monitor customer behavior, and communicate with staff.

How to deal with showroom?

If you can’t win, join and strengthen your advantages. You cannot forbid visitors to your store to use smartphones and check prices, but you can make your store more attractive:

  1. Use the store visitor counting system. Measure traffic, transactions and conversion. By accumulating statistics, you can use this data to understand whether you have progress in the fight against showrooming.
  2. Improve the quality of service. Analyze the flow in an hourly breakdown and evaluate the individual sales figures of your staff in order to correctly redistribute labor resources. Consider these data in the scheduling of staff, so you can determine which of your employees should work during peak hours of influx of visitors. Strong sellers can offer the customer a service that the customer will never receive when buying online.
    And remember that the number of staff is as important as the quality. If you have an adequate ratio of the number of buyers to the number of sellers, you give staff the opportunity to devote time to each buyer. And sell the product through an explanation of the characteristics, recommendations and demonstration of benefits and advantages. If the staff is convincing, the matter will not even come to a price comparison.
  3. Maintain inventory. When you do not have a product in stock, people have no choice but to search elsewhere. If the bestsellers and rating models are available, the chances of buying from you increase significantly. Also think about having an assortment that is difficult or impossible to find online.

What to do with the price difference? To combat showrooming, it is important to convince a customer to purchase from your store right now. Customers are willing to pay a little more for the benefits of shopping in the store: the ability to touch and feel the product, the possibility of spontaneous purchases, and the seller's personal service. However, there are limits to the discrepancy between retail prices and online prices. Be realistic. Prices should be, albeit not identical, but approximately from the same category (within 10-20%). Make up for the difference with intelligent and skilled salespeople, ambiance and after sales service.

Have pricing information for similar products from major online competitors. Offer the buyer to compare prices with online stores, thus, you clearly show that you are confident in your pricing policy, and prices on the Internet are far from always the most favorable.

Close the price gap through the loyalty program. When customers receive discounts and bonuses, the price difference with online sales softens.

Offer free accessories. Retail stores may offer free products that complement the main purchase. Often such products have a higher real perceived value than their actual cost to the seller. For example, mini-sponges for care, wipes for shoes and bags, processing shoes from moisture and dust.

Remember that you cannot compete only at the price, especially if you are a small business. You can hardly keep prices at the level of large players. And most importantly - sell not value but value. Instead of lowering prices, provide a flawless and more diverse shopping experience, personalized offers that customers can appreciate. For example, leisure for children, if they come to the store with their parents on weekends: play area, animator, entertainment programs at certain hours.

What can be done besides price manipulations?

Improve interaction with consumers within the store for maximum motivation to buy from you.

For example:

  1. Offer other benefits. Focus on post-sales services: educational workshops for buyers, for example, from invited stylists, bonus programs, shoe repair services on preferential terms. Make sure that you explicitly inform the buyer that such services are provided only after purchase from you.

  2. Offer unique assortment positions. If a visitor can buy the same product, but cheaper online, your store is just a point for comparison and analysis. Therefore, enter into the collection products with unique, rare characteristics that the client cannot buy elsewhere, increase the exclusive value of the store. 
  3. Be different, be a welcome shopping destination for selected categories of customers. For example, family-look capsules in Econika: mini-collections for mothers and daughters attract an additional audience to the store.

  4. Create events. Become a place of attraction for your customers. Client days, shopping nights, open lectures, photo days for customers - these “live” pleasures are not available to the online store.

  5. Create a customer club. Club members have special privileges: discounts, invitations to closed events, all this forms a feeling of special involvement in the brand. In the West, there is the practice of club fees - small amounts, in our reality free options are also possible.

  6. Get customers on social media. The closer the customers are to you, the better they feel you, the more loyal they are.

  7. Sell ​​online. Some buyers are not ready to make purchases right away on their first visit, but can buy later in your own online store. For example, in the Rendez-Vous shoe chain, you can order your favorite pair from an online store to a regular convenient store for you for free, without obligation to purchase. If you do not have online sales, buyers can go to the one who has them.

  8. Organize a sincere service. This is especially true for small shops where sellers know buyers by name and person, and it is nice to come there as a good friend's visit: in a friendly atmosphere of help and expert advice.

  9. Develop a loyalty program and customer bonuses. Increase your customers' commitment to the company, this leads to future sales.

  10. Provide an extended warranty and convenient return policy. Online sales are often guilty of a lack of a guarantee (especially when shopping through joint purchases) and a complicated return procedure: documents, waiting time, expenses for sending the goods back.
  11. Organize the delivery of goods. Use the weapons of online merchants.
  12. Develop personalized customer service inside stores. Offer customers products based on their previous purchases and current needs.

  13. Provide employees with mobile devices, then they will be able to advise customers in detail on the availability of sizes, colors and even compare products in other stores. If the model is not available, the employee can order the goods at the warehouse and arrange for their delivery to the client at home. 

  14. Make free wifi in the store. Simple login, access via social networks, loading the "selling" page of your site when connected to the network. And the ability of analytics to study consumer behavior in real time.

  15. Develop your mobile application as a platform for shopping and obtaining information on the Internet. This will make it possible to quickly distribute discount coupons, information about new products and special offers. This will allow you to successfully compete with online stores.

Another tip
Relationships are still easier to establish in person, not virtual communication. To determine what is right for your company, use customer surveys in the store or using special services. For example, conduct a post-purchase survey by email of all 2 items:

  1. Why did you make a purchase in our store?

  2. What are we doing so well that would make you recommend us to friends and colleagues?

Showrooming will not lose its power in the near future, but retailers can come up with and do a lot to improve service in stores and combine the benefits of real and online shopping. 

This article was published in the 153 issue of the print version of the magazine.

Over the past few years, ordinary stores have experienced changes in consumer behavior.
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