It’s no secret that online retailers have hurt the bottom lines of many brick-and-mortar stores, but the practice of showrooming just might be the final blow.
Showrooming happens when consumers examine merchandise in a retail store but buy online from a different retailer at a lower price. Just look at 94-year-old RadioShack, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year. The retailer’s fate likely was sealed because of its inability to adapt and its failure to enter the online commodities market — a combination that practically begged consumers to showroom.
A good omnichannel strategy is the best way to fight showrooming. This approach seeks to streamline and improve the overall customer experience by breaking down the walls between traditional brick-and-mortar shopping and the online shopping experience. Here are five companies that are doing omnichannel right:
Farfetch, an online luxury fashion platform, partners with independent high-end fashion boutiques, which handpick a selection of brands and styles as if they were curating pieces for an art gallery.
Customers can browse at various physical stores, but if they later search for an item online, they’ll likely be directed to the Farfetch platform. Once online, they can find an extended range of one-of-a-kind items sold from brick-and-mortar stores. The goal is to get customers to buy something from the same store they visited or from a different store in the same network.
The site also creates and shares editorial content about seasonal trends, brands, and pieces. This combination of fashion and content is unique in the industry, and it reduces the effects of showrooming by closing the loop between online and in-store shopping.
This fashion brand has created a truly interactive store powered by technology from eBay. The store blends the online and brick-and-mortar experiences with virtual mirrors that allow customers to watch the latest runway collections whiz by. Customers can choose items from display screens while a salesperson collects the items and prepares a dressing room.
Thanks to radio-frequency identification tags placed on the garments, the brand knows what was tried on, purchased, and left behind. Later, customers can use this information to create their own online profiles. This data also allows the brand to send customers intelligent recommendations.
Burberry and Nordstrom
High-end department store Nordstrom and luxury retailer Burberry have built successful omnichannel strategies to improve the customer experience and eliminate gaps between online and traditional brick-and-mortar shopping.
Both have invested in technology that allows customers to check inventory with the help of devices used by salespeople at the stores. Also, both make it easy for customers to pick up online orders in their stores. This is often more convenient for the customer, and Burberry is the single luxury retailer offering customers that option.
The retail giant has been in e-commerce for about a decade now, but it launched the ship-from-store service two years ago. Like it sounds, the option involves an item being collected from the retail store shelf, packed into a box, and shipped to the customer.
The main benefit for the customer is the short delivery time. While online retailers such as Amazon have been successful at competing in the price and selection categories, Walmart has the advantage of operating thousands of stores around the country. This helps prevent showrooming because Walmart can be more competitive in terms of convenience and delivery time.
The common thread in these examples is a focus on improving the customer experience. Enhance the customer experience by offering customized promotions using information gathered online and offline.
Use indoor location technologies to detect what customers do while in your store. By knowing their preferences and when they’re in your store, you can provide them with personalized suggestions.
For example, tell them about new products from their preferred brands, or let them know about all available colors in their size. Sending this personalized information via push notifications or email helps mirror the online shopping experience while they are in the store.
The better experience you provide across channels, the more customers will interact with your brand and be likely to order from you. Showrooming will always be a temptation for customers, but if you give them a seamless and pleasurable experience across touchpoints, they are likely to keep coming back.