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5 ways your business can survive showrooming
Technology is making comparison-shopping easier than ever before, allowing customers to enter a store, look at a product (or try it on for size), and then buy it online for a lower price, circumventing the store entirely. This trend is called "showrooming." While some may see it as a threat to brick-and-mortar businesses, it doesn't have to be.
Willing to walk for
"Our showrooming research revealed some harsh realities for retailers," says Jesse Wolfersberger, director of consumer insights for GroupM Next. "There is a segment of the population that will walk out of the store for incredibly small discounts."
A December 2012 poll by Harris Interactive found similar results. According to its numbers, 43 percent of adults have showroomed, and Best Buy and Wal-Mart were the two stores at which shoppers were most likely to "preview" a product before buying it for less online.
"Brick-and-mortar stores will always have a number of advantages over online retailers," Wolfersberger says. "Small businesses can still compete in the showrooming age because they provide non-monetary advantages that customers like: familiarity, , helpful associates, touching and feeling a product, and the ability to take it home immediately."
Here are seven ways for small- and mid-sized merchants can thrive in the age of showrooming:
1. Stay competitive with your pricing when possible. "Staying within 10
percent of the 'prevailing' price online gives you a fighting chance at
retaining customers," says Patrick Monteleone, Ph.D., director of research for
2. Engage in "clienteling." Clienteling involves interacting with shoppers, providing personalized service and making them aware of special offers, according to Gary Schwartz, president and CEO of Impact Mobile and author of "Fast Shopper, Slow Store: A Guide to Courting and Capturing the Mobile Consumer."
February 2012 Mobile
Commerce Daily column, Schwartz suggests that retailers use tablets to help
shoppers find a product, add a product to a wish list and tie this wish list to
a profile. In addition, ask customers for their mobile numbers or email
addresses and ask them if they're interested in updates, VIP events and sales
-- things that will guide them back to the store.
In addition to providing good
customer service, engaging the customer "prevents them from using their
mobile device and allows your sales associates to provide information and
discussion around the customer's purchase decision," Monteleone says.
3. Empower your
customers. Provide free Wi-Fi to customers so they can look up reviews and
product information in-store. Consider providing a couple of onsite laptops
where customers can research product information.
4. Reward your
programs, such as points or rewards programs, keep customers coming back,
5. Offer shoppers something
online retailers can't. University of
Buffalo researchers found that, when consumers shop at specialty stores,
they are not concerned about higher prices and are more likely to purchase multiple
items when there.
"Bundling products, free accessories, gift wrapping and related products all are things that online retailers can't craft for your customers," Monteleone says. "They don't know your customers."
See related: Technology lets customers skip checkout lines
Published: March 26,2020