How to Combat Showrooming in Your Store

Nov 20, 2012 9:16 PM  By

With 50% of smartphone users researching prices online while shopping inside another store, showrooming is a fast growing retail trend and it’s not going away anytime soon, according to a showrooming survey by Aprimo.

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According to a blog post written by Sucharita Mulpuru, vice president and principal analyst for Forrester Research, Inc., “The survey confirmed the worst of what many in the retail industry have expected — that showrooming is here to stay. And it hurts stores.”

The survey found that the showrooming trend is only just getting started especially since one third of those surveyed said the reason they didn’t use their smartphones to look for cheaper deals was simply because it hadn’t occurred to them.

Showrooming is going to happen to almost every retailer, “It’s the reality of retail today,” Fiona Dias, chief strategy officer at ShopRunner.com told Multichannel Merchant. But it doesn’t mean that it’s a losing battle.

“The clearest line of defense,” Dias said, would be keep hard to get merchandise in stock. This move, she said, is commonly used by retailers like American Eagle or Toys “R” Us. By having unique items in stock you will set yourself apart from your competitors.

In her blog, Mulpuru also recommends looking into some sort of an online price matching system similar to what Best Buy and Target have done. “That’s in fact what most customers expect when they see cheaper prices online,” she said.

But in the long term, Mulpuru agreed with Dias and said offering “strong and unique product assortments” with a unilateral pricing policy was another great way to fight to showrooming battle.

But probably the best strategy Dias said all comes down to customer experience. “You need to make sure the experience is one where the consumers are not just focused on the price,” Dias said. Retailers should always fill the store with knowledgeable store associates but also make the atmosphere fun and educational. A perfect example, she said, would be Game Stop and Apple, “those are fun stores to be in” and will most likely keep the customer.

Larry Freed, president and CEO of customer experience analytics firm ForeSee, told Multichannel Merchant that he sees the value in customer service and customer engagement as the best way to fight showrooming.

“You can look at showrooming as a big threat to bricks and mortar, or you can look at it this way. If people are in your door, that’s half the battle. Instead of moaning about customers showrooming, you have to embrace it. You can create a mobile app or mobile commerce site that’s so compelling that your customers want to use it in your stores,” he said.

Erin Lynch is the associate editor at Multichannel Merchant. Erin can be by emailing her at erin@multichannelmerchant.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @LynchMCM or on LinkedIn.