Showrooming – the increasingly popular consumer practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar store, not making a purchase and then shopping online to find the same item at a lower price. According to L2: A Think Tank for Digital Innovation, 58 percent of smartphone owners regularly go to a store with the sole intention of trying on or testing products before purchasing them online.
For retailers of all sizes, showrooming has become a major challenge. Big box retailer Best Buy estimates that 40 percent of their in-store traffic visits their stores with no intent to purchase. Combined with rapidly declining market share, they decided to attack showrooming head on, launching an anti-showrooming price match program in March and more recently, the addition of Samsung in-store mobile boutiques.
Interestingly, a recent study of showrooming behavior surprised both researchers and retailers, identifying that the majority of consumers who price check in-store on their smartphone actually do not purchase from an online retailer, like Amazon, but rather from a competitor’s closest brick and mortar location. According to this research, showrooming is less about the threat of online retailers and more about consumer preference to source the best price.
More than 140 million people will be smartphone users by the end of 2013 and retailers must see this as an opportunity rather than a threat. Aside from ensuring price competitiveness, retailers should also look to implement new omni-channel strategy, delivering a parallel shopping experience for customers across any medium – in-store, online, mobile, etc. Key elements of omni-channel include enhancing mobile shopping access either through a customized app or even a mobile optimized store, implementing mobilePOS (in-aisle or self-checkout), and supporting convenient cross-medium shopping. To combat showrooming retailers must deliver a compelling reason for consumers to buy, offering not only value, but also convenience to support an immediate purchase, regardless of how they are shopping. The easier retailers make it for consumers to buy, the less chance there is that they will go online or around the corner.
There is no magic solution for defeating showrooming – it’s not about an individual initiative. In order for retailers to truly drive behavior change with consumers, a widespread approach will be required. Establishing a strategy is the first step, followed by embracing and leveraging technology to keep consumers engaged and shopping.