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Retail Managers & GMs Embrace Showrooming to Earn Customers

Posted by Brandon Weaver | Wed, Nov 27, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

ShowroomingRetailers rejoice! Black Friday is on its way and Cyber Monday will be around the corner, kicking off the holiday shopping season!

You’ve printed your holiday ads, hired your seasonal staff and stocked your shelves for the crowds. Doorbusters and extended store hours may be the norm for Black Friday, but how is your business planning to fight showrooming this holiday season? Not familiar with this profit-killing practice? Showrooming occurs when a consumer researches merchandise in a brick and mortar store, "test drives" the product, then leaves the store to purchase it online.

One way to combat showrooming is to enhance the in-store shopping experience, like Barnes and Noble did hosting their first ever “Discovery Friday,” with in-store giveaways and guest appearances, all in the hopes of luring customers away from competitors. And you just can’t get that kind of experience online. Consumers are getting smarter by the day with the help of smart phones, as well as talking to friends and family. Don’t shy away from consumers who showroom; embrace them and keep the sale from walking out your door.

Showrooming may be at an all-time high this year with as many as 43% of Black Friday shoppers practicing it. In years past, Best Buy has been considered the biggest showrooming victim, where consumers visit the store, play with the products, ask questions – then walk out without buying. This year, Best Buy is actually turning showrooming on its head and created an advertising campaign to address it, “your ultimate holiday showroom.” The campaign’s message is that consumers looking to buy multiple presents will find everything they’re looking for at Best Buy. Why run around other places? By now you’ve probably seen one or more of the ads featuring LL Cool J, Maya Rudolph or Will Arnett.

To combat competitors, Best Buy is offering its low price guarantee, which promises to match the biggest shopping incentive any online retailer can offer. Of course, by doing this, they hope to win customers and prevent them from going elsewhere. The second big incentive this campaign highlights is their free shipping, plus an in-store pickup option, so if consumers do shop the company’s website, they’ll save on delivery costs. And once the item is ready for in-store pick up, there’s always the opportunity to sell more products face to face. Bought the new XBox One or PlayStation 4? Why not get a few games or another controller while you’re there? Can your business offer comparable incentives?

Other retailers are matching prices to entice customers, too. Walmart has been matching prices from the beginning of November and will continue to do so until Christmas Eve, from local brick and mortar retailers, not online. Taking it one step further, retailers such as Home Depot and Lowes will beat any competitors’ ads by 10% if the consumer brings in the ad itself (most online offers do not apply). Not only does price matching help you earn more sales, but more importantly, it gets more customers through your doors.

Reverse ShowroomingAn up and coming strategy that some retailers are beginning to use takes it a step further, “reverse showrooming,” and it takes place on social media. Reverse showrooming is when consumers do their initial research online and then purchase the item in-store. Social media giants Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest often get labeled as hindering the in-store shopping experience by having merchants offer coupons online only or linking to an item on their website. This effectively bypasses brick and mortar stores altogether, but social media can help fight showrooming, too.

Last week Pinterest announced the addition of ‘Place Pins’ to its functionality. This new feature may have been developed with travelers in mind, but it has retail shopping implications as well. It essentially allows users to announce where they’re shopping and what sale they’re taking advantage of. Not only that, but Pinterest has proved to increase store visits after users browsed online and pinned an item on their own board.

Getting consumers through your door is half the battle, but the real key is making sure they purchase. Retailers with social accounts and mobile apps can really take advantage of this. Case in point, Best Buy’s rewards program does this. Each time a consumer “checks in” using the store’s mobile app, he or she is able to accumulate bonus loyalty reward points on top of the usual membership points for simply shopping in the store. This new incentive helps encourage in-store shopping, versus consumers shopping online from their couches.

As retail managers, you’re always concerned about the holiday crush and want to make sure you wring out every possible sale, especially as each season gets more and more competitive. Need some extra tips on how to combat showrooming, besides price matching and offering reward points? We’ve got 40 of them right here, itching to be read. Your competitors have already started fighting back against showrooming. It’s time you did too.

showrooming prevention tips

Topics: Retail, General Manager

Written by Brandon Weaver