FAQs: Showrooming and how should retailers deal with it

What is showrooming?

“Showrooming” is a concept wherein customers browse brick and mortar store of various retailers, and simultaneously search through their smartphones for similar products online for lesser cost and make the final purchase online.

showroomingsource: http://tomfishburne.com

 Who is Showrooming?

According to an annual survey Mobile life by TNS Global, covering 38,000 people across 48 countries, around 33% people engage in showrooming across the globe and 21% of them use their cell phones


Source: http://visual.ly/showrooming-0

Further, the study found that 25% of 16-30 year olds used their mobile when showrooming. Also, women are slightly more likely to showroom than men.

 What does a customer buy via showrooming?

Consumer Electronics forms a huge chunk of products that are most likely to be bought online by the customers after showrooming, as brick and mortar stores can give a hands on experience of the gadget, and online ordering can get them a better discount.


source: http://visual.ly/showrooming-retail-environment

 How do smartphones fit in this?

The study by TNS further found that smartphones play a very important role for the buyer during the entire retail experience. 43% customers use their phones to check reviews of a product online when in a store while 14% used it to see if it’s easier to order online.


So not every smartphone shopper will turn into a showroomer. Infact, use of smartphones while shopping sometimes actually leads to customer feeling satisfied with the purchase, or even making an additional, unplanned purchase.

What do shoppers visiting brick and mortar stores want?

Every person visiting a retail outlet does not just want to get a feel of the product before ordering it online. Infact, according to the study by TNS, 30% of people are interested in receiving mobile coupons when they pass the product while 31% would like a mobile app to help them navigate through the store.

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customer expectation

Hence smartphone is a device that, if effectively put to use by retailers, can be used to drive shoppers to the cash registers instead of them moving to online stores.

How can retailers counter showrooming?

Internet and smartphones are here to stay, and retailers need to understand they can’t stop their customers from using mobile devices. They must embrace showrooming instead of trying to fight it, like the initial attempts by retail chains of blocking internet facility in their stores.

“We love showrooming—when Target gets to book the sale”, wrote Casey Carl, Target’s  president of multichannel merchandising, in a recent blog post. He further adds that in order to fully embrace showrooming retailers need to seamlessly integrate the physical and digital worlds—from products to price matching to personalized offers—to exponentially improve the customer experience.

Some methods used by retailers to deal with showrooming are listed below.

Competitive pricing

Used most effectively by Best Buy, the company employed a match-online-price policy in their stores. The company managed to stabilise its sales and even grow their stock by 112% in April this year.

price match

source: econsultancy.com

Social Media Presence

  • Target has introduced Holiday-Planning-Boards on Pinterest for its red card holders.

  • Nordstrom released its holiday catalogue on Pinterest, and will also put signs in its stores to highlight popularly pinned products.

  • Walmart uses its facebook pages for individual store outlets based on location to announce deals and discounts. It has further partnered with Google to incorporate inventory at nearby stores into Google search results, so if a customer searches on Google for a product, the site will display if the product is in stock at the user’s nearest Walmart store.

click spring pinterest img

source: www.clickspring.co

Digitally enabled stores

  • Burberry’s flagship London store has integrated technology throughout the store, with full length screens that switch between displaying audio-visual content, live-streaming content and functioning as mirrors. Further, RFID tags in clothes that a customer picks will enable the screens to display information about the product or how the product was worn on a catwalk, when the buyer walks past a screen.

  • Apple Stores are another example of integrating technology in a retail store.

  • Argos unveiled “store of the future”, providing self-service iPads in a customer service area where shoppers can browse product videos and customer reviews and promises  immediate, same day or next day fulfillment.

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On-demand delivery

Used effectively by Walmart, who introduced a same day delivery system, as the merchandise is shipped from nearest Walmart stores.

Mobile app or site to get onto buyers’ smartphone

As buyers are going to be browsing for any product on their smartphone in almost all circumstances, it is a better approach to direct the customer to the store’s app or site for any retailer. Walmart and Target already have sucessfully running apps.

Provide reviews for a product in print near to it, instilling a sense of reassurance in the buyer

As indicated by the findings above, most buyer’s check online for reviews. By providing them in print next to the product, retailer can eliminate that need for the customer to go online and possible get directed away from the store.

Excellent customer service experience with knowledgeable staff

The one very important service that online store lack in is human interaction with sales assistants. Having knowledgeable staff to help out customers and answer all their queries can successfully convert a potential buyer into a regular one.

To learn more about industry trends and best practices in retail industry, attend Internet Retail Expo 2014.

To contact the author, write to asmita@wirefootindia.com