Instead Of Keeping Customers From Showrooming, Embrace It

Posted by Keith Warden on October 31, 2013

Note: this is part one of a special two-part look at retail showrooming.

Following the National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2013 in January, multiple articles were written on strategies to combat showrooming. The stream hasn’t slowed as retailers struggle to figure it out and implement a sound strategy on a large scale.

But this post offers a different perspective, one of embracing showrooming. It’s about stepping back and looking at the advantages of your brick-and-mortar stores as showrooms for the endless aisles of your online store. It’s about generating ideas that focus on turning a consumer into a customer — your customer.

Showrooming pt1 20131030

Retailers with a large number of brick-and-mortar locations that also have strong online shopping presence and a great logistics program are best positioned to embrace showrooming as part of a winning omnichannel commerce strategy.

Omnichannel commerce is the evolution of cross-channel commerce in which retail and online (e-tail) shopping experiences are merged into a single, cohesive shopping experience.

Assuming you fit that category, you could increase sales, maintain customers for repeated sales and that means growing your business.

It’s your showroom: Make it work for you

Moving your customer from your retail store to your online store (e-tail store) doesn’t have to be that complex. The whole focus must be on keeping them in your “store.” Think about it: You already have a strong e-tail store, just get your customers to it as quick and seamlessly as possible. Levels of investment to shrink the gap between and merge your retail and e-tail vary, but make it simple for the customer no matter how high-tech or low-tech the method may be.

So how simple can it be?

Let’s say I’m at one of your stores shopping for dress shirts. I’m looking for a certain color, fit and size, and you have a good selection of shirts meeting all three of those criteria on the sales floor — your showroom. But, I’m picky and I want it in mustard yellow (for the record: I would never where a mustard-yellow shirt. Okay, maybe I would). I’ve been able to touch and try on the shirt, but I don’t see the color I want, but I clearly see a QR code on the display suggesting that I visit your e-tail store where you have more colors, fits and sizes to choose from. I scan the QR code using my smartphone that’s always in my pocket, and within seconds the dress shirt “aisle” just grew exponentially. And, you’ve got it in stock in mustard yellow. Sold!

Simple, right? Yes, but don’t take me to the home page of your e-tail store where I have to dig through the site. Take me directly to the exact product and all the colors, fits and styles available. This also gives you a chance to apply personalization and localization strategies to boost sales as well.

The example above of using a QR code to seamlessly move from the physical store to the online store—retail to e-tail—assumes I have a QR code scanner on my phone, which not everyone does. But this is just one example of a simple way to move a customer to purchasing from you and not losing them. This is a simple idea, and there are plenty more out there just as simple.

Of course, there’s more to getting the sale than just getting a customer to your site. We’ll discuss those in a future post.

Have you embraced showrooming? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet your responses using the hashtag #mcgblog