Don’t be a retailer, be an experience

Countless surveys and studies tell us that showrooming is a real phenomenon. And yet, it still makes headlines that seem intent on “waking up” retailers to this ‘major threat’ to their livelihood. Problem is, none of these studies really talk about the underlying behavior of the shopper - the “why” behind showrooming. Why are customers looking for better prices online? Why are they using retailers’ meticulously planned, staffed and stocked square footage as a way to touch or hold something they intend to buy elsewhere?

The truth is - shoppers aren’t evil. They’re just playing the role of the consumer in a free market economy. They want a good for the lowest price, assuming that good is a freely available commodity.

So what can retailers do to combat showrooming??? Show their customers that they can have an experience in store that is NOT a commodity. That “you can’t get this anywhere else” feeling. This isn’t a new and novel concept - smart retailers have been doing this for decades.

Why it matters more now is that the idea of showrooming is, in a word, muddy. Take a look at these two articles for example.

One quotes 63% of shoppers as showroomers. The other claims only 6% of shoppers are showrooming. Who’s right? Showrooming or not, the common thread in all these surveys is that shoppers aren’t that interested in who they buy things from. Brands mean less to shoppers than they ever have.

So what’s a retailer to do?

Start by reading in-between the lines on these surveys. Shoppers are not abandoning physical stores. Shoppers are overwhelmed with options and places to buy. Today, pricing and deals is an area where retailers can no longer get away with not being competitive.

So, retailers, give your customers a reason to visit the store again. Make your physical space amazing and inspiring! Embrace technology rather than shun it. Ensure your staff is customer-centric. Yes, showrooming is real, so give you customers a reason to give you their business even if you’re marginally more expensive than the next guy. Once they’re in the store, you have their attention and interest. Special retailers will make the sale. The ones solely competing on price will risk losing it to showrooming.