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Showrooming Is Here to Stay, Here’s How to Deal

I need a new dining room table. I have been working on my MBA from my couch and various spaces of my living room floor for almost 2 years now and I am sick of it. I refuse to let guests use the extra space on the couch as their ad hoc dinner trays, and I have failed at offering any type of alternative. So that means I need to go shopping.

Since furniture shopping isn’t something that I do on a regular basis it requires much time and research, but who has time for that when by the time you’re reading this post I will be back to recording lectures on my iPhone?

I need a new table, now, at the best price and to fit my “décor” but to find that right table that will require a little bit of  “showrooming” the dirty word in retail that we have been throwing around for sometime now.

Thing is, without showrooming I would not have the at-hand knowledge of who was selling what table at what price, and sure I am looking to see if I can find that table anywhere else for a lower price than where Google Images originally led me. Once I’ve made my decision the next step is to see whether or not there is a physical location where I can pick up my table or have it delivered in time for at least the second week of class, which may then require me to drive to the store, where I may in fact find chairs to match this table, which is a whole ‘nother diary entry and maybe even a few place mats.

Wouldn’t it be cool if when I got to the store, my phone alerted me of items from the same retailer that complemented my current purchase, as well as any discounts, price matching, or sale items that I might be interested in? Then after all that mobile economic efficiency, they also ship it right to my newly tabled apartment because their inventory shows it in stock and available to ship? Would be nice right?

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Image Credits: SomeDooh, Statista

Well that is what Omnico Group’s latest study is suggesting retailer should spend more time investing in. With customers now more engaged than ever, through social media, ecommerce, and other forms of product reviews, maintaining that engagement while keeping up with the pace of mobile technology is crucial for the success of brands in this next century.

Omnichannel should now be not only a household term but a nearly perfected practice, when a customer decides on your product, you need to get it to them faster than Rihanna can change her hair color.

“Guestimations” on inventory levels, and breaks in shipping and logistics communication can have big consequences on the back end, even when customer engagement and marketing efforts are winning on the front end. If you are going to promote the product make sure you have the inventory to sell the product.

So what are some practical ways that a brand can approach this embracing of showrooming, while keeping customers engaged, proving the product on demand without totally restructuring their technology systems currently in place? Great question! I have a few ideas.

Invest in a good omnichannel platform. We have discussed the need of knowing understanding and implementing a strong omnichannel platform multiples times here at FashInvest, so feel free to click here read up on them.

Be honest with your customers. It is clear that customers can find whatever they need to about you, your brand, and your favorite take out restaurant all thanks to the internet and social media, so be honest with them about showrooming, and why your brand is worth the financial investment. As this eConsultancy article says, “Acknowledge when you offer the lowest price and when you can’t explain the benefits of shopping right here right now.” Maybe the willingness to price match isn’t such a bad idea, Wal-Mart has seemed to embrace it, and Best Buy now even calls themselves “The Ultimate Showroom.” Combat this consumer trend by hiding it in plain sight.

Perceived Value Increases Revenue. When it comes down to it, the retail industry is truly a service industry and customers will pay for quality service, and convenience-though this University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business study begs to differ- so that means that each brand must consider what is its perceived value from product to purchase. John Flemming, Chief Scientist for Gallup put it this way, “Customers shop based on price when price is the only thing that differentiates competing offerings-when they don’t have an emotional connection to a particular retailer-when they are not engaged as customers.” This means product assortment in the stores compared to online, knowledgeable sales associates, customer wait times both in line and product delivery, all these things matter to the customer, and at differing times.

It appears that a new amenity that retailers are offering that is adding value to their in-store experience is wi-fi. Though seeming like such a simple concept, specialty retail locations, shopping malls alike are now offering free wi-fi services to their shoppers. This is a big deal people! Customers being able to shop your brand’s app while in store-think Target Cartwheel app- or scan products that provide discounts exclusive to loyalty club members, to be able to show an associate the product that they found online and want to purchase something to match in store-hello matching chairs for my table.

The specific use of the store connection by customers is still inconclusive, however that only means that there are endless opportunities to make this store feature your own. Still there are cautions of both customer information security and store costs, which are valid concerns that should be thought out before implementing a public launch.

 By Mei-Li Thomas

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