Showrooming is prowling the world of commerce, and it’s got a nasty bite.
Jessops, the UK photography retailer, is showrooming’s most high profile victim. Some retail experts believe showrooming puts the whole high street at risk. Electronics retailers are particularly vulnerable.
What is showrooming? It’s when shoppers go into a bricks-and-mortar store to take a look at a product they’re planning to buy. Instead of buying the product in store, they go online to get what they want at a lower price.
On the face of it, while the high street quakes in its boots, eCommerce retailers can only benefit from showrooming. Online customers get the opportunity to try before they buy. And from an eCommerce perspective, if it knocks the high street out of business, well that’s a competitor out of the game.
But is it that simple? Should eCommerce traders be at all concerned about showrooming? And what can high street stores do about showrooming?
The Rise of Showrooming
Showrooming has existed since traders started selling online. There have always been savvy shoppers willing to go the extra mile to find the best price, yet who want to try before they buy.
However, showrooming has only entered the mainstream since the rise of smartphones. With a smartphone in her pocket, the consumer can check online prices as she shops.
Recent research found over a third of smartphone owners in the US engage in showrooming. What’s more, three in five showroomers fully intend to purchase in store when they walk through the doors. Only when they check prices on their smartphone do they change their mind and purchase online.
Consumer electronics, clothing and books are the products most likely to fall victim to showrooming.
The main motivation for consumers who showroom is price. However, nearly half of showroomers already plan to buy online when they walk into a store.
High street retailers are rightly concerned. It not only costs them lost sales; it also damages the floor samples through consumers constantly checking them out.
What are the lessons to learn from showrooming?
What Can We Learn from Showrooming?
Jessops learned the hard way, but they didn’t completely die out because of showrooming. Instead, they got snapped up by Dragons’ Den entrepreneur Peter Jones, and they’re now using showrooming to their advantage. The re-opened stores will operate as showrooms for Jessops’ online business, as well as selling some products in store.
This goes to show that both eCommerce and high street retailers can benefit from showrooming. What are the main lessons from Jessops’ demise and resurrection?
The rise of digital-physical. The digital world is invading the “real” world, and the physical world is rapidly learning the importance of online.
Consumers want to try before they buy. Being able to hold a product in their hands and see it with their eyes before they buy is important to consumers.
Price matters. As always, price remains a key motivator, but it’s not everything, because…
Customer service matters. Essentially, showrooming is consumers doing customer service for themselves. Consumers are putting in the legwork because retailers have become lazy. Train your staff to offer a personal service, and how to close the sale.
eCommerce stores can benefit from a high street presence. Having a physical showroom is an opportunity to build brand loyalty, improve customer service, and secure the order there and then. Managing multi-channel sales outlets has become much easier in the past year with low-cost, easy to use solutions such as Veeqo.
High street stores can benefit from getting online. If you’re not in the digital marketplace, you’re missing sales. And if you’re already online, you can think about how to use your physical shops as showrooms.
Key for all retailers to remember is that all customers come to your store intending to buy. The trick is to get them to buy from you.
What do you think? Do you engage in showrooming? How can your business benefit from showrooming?
Written by David Masters
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