‘Showrooming’ – the practice of coming into a shop to view a product in person and then shopping around to make the purchase elsewhere (most likely online) for less money has been an oft-cited factor in the ‘death of the high street’ with many retail stores and shopping centres taking steps to keep shoppers in their stores or prevent showrooming as much as possible. Yet a recent report, released last month by marketing firm, Vibes has now suggested that the process of showrooming can actually help retailers and often results in additional sales for those stores.
The report asserts that showrooming is not necessarily a bad thing for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers. They suggest that the fact that many shoppers are increasingly taking their online shopping out onto the high street by visiting shopping centres with their smartphones, will actually boost sales.
The potential for losing sales because customers are using their smartphones to instantly peruse competitors prices has been a growing concern amongst many high street retailers but Vibes suggest this concern is unfounded. Although shoppers are now able to complete on-the -spot comparison shopping, the actual percentage of shoppers who are likely to abandon an in-store purchase to complete the acquisition elsewhere is rather small. According the report, only 25% of shoppers who showroom—just 6% of shoppers overall—are likely to do what retailers call ‘pure showrooming’ meaning that they would only check out an item in the store before buying it elsewhere online.
According to the study 82% of consumers are now taking their smartphones shopping with them – making the potential for showrooming more likely. However according to the report, 29% of shoppers said that although they may use a physical store as a showroom to check out the product in the flesh, they will then go and buy it online from that actual store’s website rather than from Amazon or another competitor.
Up until now many retailers have taken steps to dissuade shoppers from showrooming. They know they can’t stop shoppers from bringing their smartphones into their shops so have tried to divert attention from price comparing with the use of shopping apps which encourage visitors to browse and make purchases in store. Another tactic employed by some stores is to offer exclusive goods which can’t be bought elsewhere and subsequently can’t be showroomed. By doing so they stand a chance of increasing specific sales and maximising the incentive to visit the store.
In the US the Target store – one of the pioneers of using their own in-store shopping app – have just announced that they are going to be taking on showroomers during the pre-Christmas shopping season by matching the online prices of competitors such as Amazon and Wal-Mart on identical products. For a store like Target, the two month sales period leading up to Christmas can account for up to 40% of their annual sales. This new measure is the latest in a series of innovative attempts to ensure that they retain a competitive seat in the marketplace. In addition to the price-matching, Target have also brought out a range of exclusive designer products in time for Christmas in order to make their sales ranges more appealing.
Despite these measures Vibes insist that Target should not be so concerned. The new figures suggest that the customers are exhibiting brand loyalty by showrooming and then purchasing online from the same store – and only 15% of shoppers say that they were dissuaded from making a purchase after they checked out an item in store with their smartphone to make comparisons.
Once the benefits of showrooming are fully acknowledged, retailers can focus on playing to these strengths by exploring the factors that drive customers into stores and shopping centres to check out products and enhancing the features of their physical stores to maximum effect. It has never been a better time to invest in quality retail interior design and Barber provides the whole package – from developing brand loyalty to delivering award-winning retail window displays and retail interiors with the right balance of display units, lighting, fixtures and fittings and point of sale displays.
The difference between online and traditional high street shopping is the experience. Where online retailers may invest thousands in user experience design, getting the physical shopping experience right is also crucial. Unlike online stores, people visit shopping centres for pleasure and it should be a sensory experience – appealing to all five senses – something that online shopping is unable to offer. Some people want to relax, some want to be stimulated or entertained. The award-winning Mini store that we blogged about a couple of weeks ago is a prime example of this – the Mini brand represents more than just a product – and there are fun games and quirky things to try in store such as the Mini car configurator and an interactive mirror where they can try on clothes virtually without getting dressed. Interesting, engaging displays like this promote brand loyalty and actively encourage people to linger in the store, browsing and making unplanned purchases. Offering unique enticements to customers will also compel them to recommend the store or visit repeatedly and even if they can make price comparisons ‘on the hoof’ they are more likely to stay loyal to the brand that offers an interesting retail experience.