Showrooming is a recent retail phenomenon. And one that has brick and mortar retailers scrambling for a remedy. Showrooming came about with the emergence of more ubiquitous smartphone use and eCommerce giants. This allows consumers to shop for products in person, but compare prices online. Most often, they will purchase the cheapest offer, even if it’s not from the retail store at which they were shopping.
The dreaded “no thanks, I’m just looking” response from a shopper doesn’t have to be so bad, however. It’s important for retailers to find ways to improve sales without trying to completely eliminate showrooming. After all, some showrooming shoppers are here to stay. Amazon, WalMart, and other big box chains, aren’t going anywhere. Neither are smartphones. So what are some ways to prevent showrooming at your store? Consider these tactics that can keep customers in your store and boost your sales immediately.
Start with Your Staff Training
It’s important to approach your training from an educational perspective. You don’t want to be creating a team of salespeople. Instead, think about training experts. Remember that personal interactions and direct customer service are the biggest advantages of brick and mortar stores over eCommerce. Moreover, creating a memorable experience for a customer is much more valuable than upselling an item, or trying to push a few extra purchases. Excellent customer service can create lifelong loyalty and plenty of recommendations.
Stay away from paying employees based on commission. There are still some industries where this makes sense, but it’s rarely your best option. This easily creates a team of pushy salespeople and unsatisfied customers.
With great product and brand education, you’re showing your customers that you are selling the product to improve their lives, not simply trying to make a profit. In turn, people in your store will be much more confident making a purchase immediately rather than shop around for the cheapest option available online.
Create a Smooth Checkout Experience
Long lines and confusing checkouts are a great way to lose sales. Your customers will quickly find a more convenient option online. One of the major forces behind soaring eCommerce sales is the convenience of the experience. A brick and mortar store will never allow you to shop from your bed or toilet, but there are steps you can take to make it fast and easy.
Start by organizing your checkout lanes and adding additional point of sale terminals if lines are getting backed up. Mobile POS systems (mPOS) on tablets are a great solution. These allow you to quickly add a checkout lane, or even ring up a sale anywhere on the sales floor.
Also consider your payment options. It’s critical to accept all major forms of payment, including contactless and mobile payments. More and more consumers expect these options to be available.
Sell Your Brand
There are very few products that can only be bought at one store. You need to differentiate your store by selling your brand. While this can be done with any online shop, it’s easier to brand a product and experience at a brick and mortar retail store. Show each person that steps foot through your doors exactly what makes you unique. This creates a deeper connection with customers while also allowing you to identify your customer niche.
One great way to set your branding apart from online retailers is through your packaging. A regular brown Amazon package is never exciting. Find a design that makes sense for your store, especially during the holiday season when it also adds a level of convenience to the experience.
Identifying a mission or lifestyle with your brand is another great way to stand out. Again, this can be done online, but communicating it in person is often more powerful. Take retailers like Urban Outfitters or Anthropolgie, for example. These stores attract customers who identify with the entire package, not just a handful of products.
All of this taken together is another great way to reduce showrooming and keep customers uninterested in strict price comparison.
Create a Great In-Store Experience
Many retailers are focusing on ways to combine the digital and analog shopping experience. You’ve probably noticed a lot more technology present in many physical retail locations. This can be used in myriad ways:
- Video and light displays
- Digital shopping on location
- QR code coupons on receipts or in apps
- Real-time location and maps for store navigation
Take Advantage of Your WiFi
Just because universal internet connection is what led to showrooming in the first place doesn’t mean that you should avoid providing it. Instead, think about ways that you can use it your advantage.
Free WiFi can attract people into your store that might not have come in otherwise, especially tourists. There are still plenty of people who are concerned with data usage and providing a WiFi connection adds convenience to the experience.
On a deeper level, however, you can also use WiFi connections to gather important data, including emails, phone numbers or addresses. While you don’t want to be too intrusive, asking for an email login for access to your WiFi is a fair request.
More advanced WiFi marketing can enable you to communicate with the customer throughout the shopping experience. You can update them of their store locations, send notifications if they’re nearby promotions or sales, and send educational information about any products they’re interested in buying. The type of mobile marketing is still in its infancy, but it will be the future of the brick and mortar retail experience.
Focus on the Omni-Channel Experience
As we’ve mentioned many, many times, it’s essential to offer a thorough, multi-channel retail experience. This means having an online store as well. More channels allow you to reach your customers in more ways. It also adds to the customer experience and will lessen your showrooming rates.
One of the most popular examples of this is allowing in-store pickup after an online purchase. It saves you time and money with shipping, while allowing the shopper to know that the product is in stock and avoid potential long lines. It also gets the shopper in the store, which often means that more will be purchased.
Maintaining a social media presence will also contribute to this. Social media can let your customers promote you store, instilling more trust in your product and again lessening the temptation for your customers to price check every single product they pick up.
Lastly, slightly bigger retailers may want to consider having their own app. It could even have a built-in price comparison feature. An app captures important customer information, and keeps each shopper in the conversation with your store.
Any More Ways to Prevent Retail Showrooming?
No small business will ever be able to compete with big box prices and delivery times. And it’s inevitable that some customers will showroom their way right out your doors. But these are great ways to make it less likely to happen. Think about what kind of retail experience you want. We’ve all shopped online because of cheaper prices, but we also have spent more in certain instances because the retail experience was just better. Consider what made the experience superior in those cases. Give it a try and have some fun with it. As much as eCommerce has exploded, the old brick and mortar store isn’t going anywhere.