Showrooming is when consumers visit bricks and mortar stores to experience touching and using the product before they make a purchase. Often times, in fact in about 40 percent of the cases, the consumer then uses the information gathered to make a purchase for the item online. This is most prevalent with smaller electronics, where it's more like 60 percent, although it is spreading to larger purchases with the advent of the cheaper shipping many online retailers are offering.
Embrace the New Reality
The only thing a retail store can do is accept and embrace the new reality. Showrooming is not going to go away and in fact as technology improves, it will become even more active in the coming years. Once you accept that this is how it works, you can figure out how to differentiate yourself and compete.
Become an Experience Destination
People love to be entertained; it's one reason that physical Apple stores are so popular. People like going in, touching and feeling the product and they like the store atmosphere. Best Buy also does a good job setting up displays and making the consumer feel special by acknowledging them when they walk through the door. You can do a lot to make your store a destination by thinking a little outside the box, but ensuring that you are still attracting your target audience.
Integrate Online and Offline Shopping
Sears does a great job with integrating online and offline shopping. With Sears you can shop online, even put things on layaway, and you can get low-cost shipping to your home, free shipping to the store, and easy curbside pickup. Plus, everyone is asked to get on their email list at the time of checkout, whether in store or out of store, in order to collect points for use on later purchases.
Offer Above Average Personalized Customer Service
The key to increasing sales in the bricks and mortar environment is to offer above average and personalized customer service. Sales personnel need to be highly trained on merchandise to help consumers make good choices, and at the same time not feel pressured or rushed into making immediate purchases. Consumers like to get education about the products they are considering buying.
Offer Mobile Coupons during In-Store Visits
A great way to help consumers with purchasing choices is to offer areas where they can scan a QR code using their smartphone and be delivered a coupon for use while shopping in the store. Consumers don't know when or how much the coupon will be, but they can use them that day, if they make a purchase that day. You can also send these types of coupons by email, or through snail mail.
It is not always possible to price match and it depends on your store, but you should consider whether you can offer price matching that is reasonable and can still keep you in business. Ask consumers to bring in sales listings on their smartphone so you can see if you can give them a similar deal for a like or same product or service.
Use Email Marketing to Its Fullest Potential
As mentioned earlier, Sears sales personnel are trained to collect email addresses at the time of purchase. If purchases are made online, an email address is collected too. This email address can now be used to encourage shoppers to come into the store for “in store” specials and to even reserve their item online before coming to the store to pick it up.
Incorporate Social Media Marketing
Encourage in-store visitors, and online visitors, to like you and follow you on social media, then make it worth their while by offering early notification of specials and upcoming events. When consumers know about events they are more likely to come to the store, even if they weren't planning to make a purchase.
To accommodate the growth of showrooming, don't fight it. Embrace it, encourage it, and most of all celebrate it. You want your customers to make purchases they are happy with and want to keep for a long time. The happier your consumers are, the more likely they are to make repeat purchases.