Showrooming is when customers visit a physical store to check out products in person, without the intention of buying in-store but instead, to make their purchase elsewhere online. In recent years, showrooming has become an increasingly common shopping behavior that poses a significant threat to physical stores, as it diverts potential sales to online competitors, jeopardizing their market share and revenue. In this blog post, we will explain how retailers can tackle showrooming effectively and turn the threat into an opportunity.

Understanding Showrooming

Showrooming is the phrase used to describe the recent practice of shoppers visiting traditional stores to test, feel, and explore various products just to buy them online elsewhere. The driving force behind this trend lies in the consumer's desire to physically interact with products before making a purchase decision, coupled with their preference for cost-effective options.

Usually, online businesses can offer the exact same products at much lower prices. Not only that, online stores often have a wider array of products compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts, offering a greater selection of colors, sizes, and variations.

Take, for instance, the common scenario of purchasing shoes. Given the variance in sizes and preferences across different brands and models, many individuals prefer to physically try on shoes before committing to a purchase. Thus, a customer may visit a local shoe store to test their preferred brand and determine the appropriate size, only to later buy online at a lower cost.

The Impact of Showrooming on Retailers

As showrooming continues to rise, brick-and-mortar retail businesses are being negatively impacted. As these stores primarily serve as display and trial spaces rather than points of sale, they face the challenge of generating revenue while incurring operational costs to maintain their physical presence and storefronts.

The big issue here is the competition with online stores. Showrooming makes it easier to shop online because customers can check out products in person before buying them online, giving them more confidence to order online. That's why many traditional retail stores are losing sales to online rivals.

Online businesses typically have lower operational costs compared to physical stores since they don't have to worry about expenses like rent, display costs, and employees for every location. Plus, since online businesses don't need to keep all their stock in one place, they can offer a wider variety of items.

How can retailers tackle showrooming

Enhance the In-Store Experience

Unlike when shopping online, when shoppers go to physical stores, they expect to have an experience out of it. If your store is a fun place to hang out in, they won’t come just to look but will engage with the brand, store, and employees, and more likely they will convert and make a purchase.

To close sales on the spot, ensure your team is giving exceptional customer service, including personal assistance and matching pieces for a full experience they cannot find elsewhere. For example, if a customer comes to the store just to check one pair of pants she wishes to buy online, try to complement that with perfectly matching shirts, sneakers, etc., for a full set style they cannot get anywhere else.

Embrace Technology

Embracing technology is pivotal for modern retailers seeking to enhance the customer experience. Implementing QR codes strategically throughout the store enables effortless access to comprehensive product information via customers' smartphones. Additionally, the integration of mobile apps offers a sophisticated avenue for personalized recommendations and streamlined transactions, enriching the overall shopping journey.

In addition, effective omnichannel strategies are essential for seamless synergy between online and offline channels. By harmonizing these channels, retailers can ensure a consistent and convenient shopping experience for customers across all touchpoints. Providing flexible options such as click-and-collect or ship-from-store further amplifies convenience, fostering customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Moreover, to bridge the gap between online offerings and brick-and-mortar stock availability, retailers should consider implementing an endless aisle strategy. For example, the customer can come and try a certain piece of clothing and then go to a digital kiosk to explore further colors, similar items, or matching items for upsell.

Build Brand Loyalty

Create a relationship with your customers that will build brand loyalty, this will give them a good reason to keep coming back and make purchases. One great way to do that is to implement a membership with a loyalty program that offers exclusive discounts and promotions for repeat customers.

For example, get monthly rechargeable coupons or discounts, or earn points for each purchase which can be used in the next purchases. That directly leads to continuous purchases because they don’t want to “waste” what they already earned, which also gives an exclusivity feeling that motivates clients.

To sum up, showrooming poses a real challenge for brick-and-mortar retailers, but it also offers an opportunity for innovation and growth. By understanding the dynamics of showrooming and its impact on retail, businesses can adopt proactive strategies to transform threats into opportunities. Improving the in-store experience, using technology wisely, and building strong customer loyalty are practical ways to tackle showrooming head-on. With these strategies, retailers can not only survive but also thrive in today's competitive market.