As we enter the New Year and look to better strategies to improve service to shoppers, it’s important to look back and use the past as a resource. With last year’s shopping statistics start rolling in, the numbers are already showing some good news for retailers who’ve been suffering from the effects of showrooming.
Although the news is welcomed in the retail industry, showrooming hasn’t simply vanished––it’s been converted into opportunity by stores that have recognized a shift in consumer expectations and adjusted their strategy accordingly. For those who have not yet found a way to convince customers to keep their business inside the store, it’s time to take a look at what those who have succeeded in curbing the activity are doing right.
New Shopping Study Shows Progress On Showrooming
A recently released study conducted by IBM is one of the first to emerge covering shopping statistics from 2013 as they relate to showrooming specifically. The biggest takeaway from the results gave retailers a sigh of relief: showrooming is no longer a top threat to brick and mortar stores according to data gathered from more than 30,000 global consumers.
Spending tied to showrooming dropped significantly from 50 percent of all online purchases in 2012, to 30 percent in 2013. If even more retailers are able to pull their customers away from showrooming over the course of this year, the practice may dissolve almost entirely.
How Retailers Are Finding Success
It’s clear that fighting the effects of showrooming means distinguishing your in-store experience with a unique environment and new promotional ideas. How retailers are doing this however, is the real story.
According to Jill Puleri of IBM Retail Consulting, the strategies showing the most success integrate online and in-store offerings together––a demand shoppers have been expressing to retailers for years.
Instead of seeing something online and showing up to the store only to learn it’s available exclusively on the web, stores are now shifting their online presence to cater to those who use online tools to help them shop in the store. Consistency is now the main weapon against showrooming.
Tips To Start Improving Today
One way big retailers are solving the problem doesn’t eliminate showrooming at all––it simply gives customers a way to do it without buying from competitors. Walmart, Best Buy, and Kroeger’s are three big names that have recently released mobile apps specifically tailored to the showrooming customer.
The apps are all aimed at expanding the shopping experience with digital product coupons, check-ins, loyalty programs and price comparisons. Although coupons are nothing new, mobile devices allow retailers to personalize them to the individual based on the shopper’s purchase history or their current location within the store. This extra convenience means less work on the customer’s part to find deals on products they’re interested in as well as another reason to make a purchase inside the store rather than through a competitor.
Check-ins via mobile devices give retailers extra reach on social media by letting customers spread the word when a particular product or discount opportunity is too good not to share with friends and family. This means more business for the store and a way for customers to share their shopping experience with others.
Mobile retail apps can also do away with the traditional loyalty program card model by storing shopping points and displaying rewards on the device itself, adding an extra layer of convenience by getting rid of plastic cards and keychains altogether. For those offering price-matching to avoid showrooming, customers keen on hunting for the best possible price can run comparisons on products they find in the store to ensure they’re getting the most bang for their buck.
The study’s results also show growing support for location-based mobile technology. Compared to 2012’s statistics, the number of consumers willing to share their location data nearly doubled to 36 percent in 2013. As Beacon technology begins to integrate with mobile devices already in our pockets, well-executed and functional mobile apps may be the best tool in the fight against showrooming.
While following the lead of big retailers is one place to start––no two stores are the same. If you’re ready to invest in a real showrooming solution, make sure your strategy is something consumers will respond to. Customer intercepts can take the guess-work out of the equation and provide genuine feedback when it matters most.