It’s not a matter of if, but a matter of when. And it’s not a matter of how to prevent it, but a matter of how to embrace it to generate more retail sales. The playing field has changed since CrossCheck first covered showrooming in 2013, and the consciousness has evolved from problem to solution (see our recent article “Showrooming Solutions for Brick & Mortar Retailers”). First, a little refresher course is in order.
Showrooming is the practice of comparison shopping in online retail spaces while consumers are physically present in another store.
The old mindset was to consider showrooming as a threat because of the temptation for consumers to visually inspect products in person, then purchase them from a competing online vendor for less money. Today, many brick-and-mortar retailers have found creative ways of using showrooming to their advantage. Here are some of our favorite approaches on how to generate more retail sales with showrooming customers.
Make Friends, Not Foes
Showrooming simply represents more competition and it’s no more of a threat to sales than any other competing business that opens in the same market. Retailers have been dealing with the treat of competition for millennia.
Consider the sandal maker in ancient Rome who discovers that another sandal maker has set up shop just a few yards down his cobbled road. Does the first dealer strike the tent and go home, or does that merchant figure out ways to compete? The solution, of course, is to compete by offering better heels, soles, prices or services — like free lifetime conditioning for all sandal straps.
Moving ahead a few thousand years, brick-and-mortar dealers can offer free WiFi by simply purchasing a separate router for about $75, naming it “Such and Such Guest Network,” and sharing the password online and all over the store. The importance of message replication in retail promotions cannot be over-emphasized.
Integrate, Don’t Separate
Another important factor in the realm of retail consciousness is to consider online sales as part of the entire sales channel as opposed to it being a separate one. The global market is available anywhere at any time, so why not integrate all sales channels so that useful information such as prices, product descriptions, availability and customer reviews are at the fingertips of potential buyers?
Consider promoting in-store and online sales efforts on all printed mailing pieces, email marketing campaigns, website promotions and Google Ads campaigns. If it sounds like a major effort, that’s because it is a major effort. Nevertheless, merchants should make it clear to local consumers that there are rewards to visiting the shop instead of buying online. It may be the customer service or product knowledge of the hired help.
Furthermore, one should never forget that many customers webroom (researching products online before buying in the store) for information, but actually prefer shopping in person. A survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics under the auspices of the National Retail Federation claims that 34 percent of consumers regularly “research a product online before purchasing in a store.”
Marketing programs built on the belief that “if we build it, they will come” became obsolete in the 1940s. In addition, many brick-and-mortar stores spend all of their startup capital on infrastructure, inventory, licensing and furnishings, but leave little for promotions or operating costs to carry them through the first crucial 12 months. This fatal combination is a major cause of new business failure, including merchants that deliver quality goods or services. Today’s retail marketer must find creative ways of competing, even if it means competing against big-box stores or online giants like Amazon — it happens!
Develop Price Strategies
Price matching is a tough pill to swallow, but it has proven successful to many brick-and-mortar retailers. For example, a retailer may have higher in-store prices, but it’s price-matching policy is widely known after repeated promotions:
We will match the price of an identical item displayed on our web portal or any competitor’s site if you purchase today. Simply show the advertised item and price to our associates while you are checking out.
Hopefully, consumers will continue returning for the great customer service and knowledgeable sales staff than simply lower prices, and they may even pay the posted price because they realize the store needs a little profit to stay in business — it happens!
Reward showroomers with in-store deals such as “buy now (online or at the counter) and pick up on the way out today.” Of course, price-matching is going to be a large factor on the way to generating more retail sales.
Retail chains with multiple storefronts can offer location-based coupons that are only available after consumers check in via social media (see below).
Out Showroom the Showroomers
Spot showroomers and offer assistance such as helping them comparison shop and find in-store discounts. Here is where team effort comes into play.
Dealers should arm sales people with smart phones or tablets to make this happen. The approach as well as the successes and failures of this ongoing effort can be shared and strategized at team meetings. It can also be a rallying point around increasing esprit de corps.
Offer Discounts for Checking In or Dropping Pins
Social media is all the rage, or is it? The most effective way for brick-and-mortar dealers to promote their business on mobile social media apps is for them to become familiar with the apps while using them in public.
Start by opening personal and store accounts on the most popular social media channels: Facebook, Google Plus, Yelp, Twitter and LinkedIn (business posts only and minimal self-aggrandizing).
See how other merchants are using social media to promote their shops. Emulate those efforts or discover new ways of promoting a business as familiarity is gained with the respective tools and options.
Using “social media promotion 101,” merchants can offer discounts to consumers who check in their store location while using Facebook, Foursquare and Yelp page, or tag the store location while using Twitter and Google Plus. The related discount information should be visible on the merchant’s social media pages and in-store signage. This would be another opportunity for sales reps to engage consumers in the store and point out the store’s connectivity and discount offerings.
Retailers can also establish a presence on YouTube by making and posting two-minute videos of exciting new products as they are released.
Other Ways to Generated More Retail Sales
As pointed out earlier, it’s all one mega channel, whether consumers are shopping online or in store, and those channels require versatile payment options. CrossCheck has developed solutions for brick-and-mortar merchants to help secure the payments process.
For example, Standard Check Guarantee allows merchants to quickly approve guaranteed checks at the point of sale via terminal, phone or the web before being deposited at the bank. Merchants simply submit returned checks to CrossCheck for reimbursement. Download our free guide to learn how Standard Check Guarantee can generate more retail sales at your business.