Going home after a class on Tuesday, I walked into Saks Fifth Avenue. I casually browsed through some dresses for this upcoming party, and took some to try on. After spending a good half an hour on this, I made up my mind. I left the dresses on the rack and walked out of the store happily. Confused?
Did I want the dress? YES! Did I buy it? Well, YES! Just a couple of days later, as I received my salary on that Friday, I went online and ordered it at a discounted price from 6PM.COM
Now that’s some shopper’s delight!
Like it or not, this is the trend of the retail industry. Customers walk into stores, browse through products, bombard salespeople with questions, and then go buy it online at a cheaper price!
Why? Well for starters, they can! With the boom in e-commerce and the added ease and convenience it offers, more and more customers are beginning to treat the traditional brick-and-mortar stores like showrooms for their online purchases. Online vendors offer more variety, more deals, more savings, more advantages, and moreover all this is accessible for the comfort of any location you choose! And wait there’s more. Buying online offers you options to compare for best price, read multiple product reviews, and share instantly to get an opinion from family or friends.
With the rise of price compare websites, and e-commerce giants such as Amazon offering not only everything you need, but also same day delivery, the fad of showrooming is quickly catching on and is here to stay! No wonder it is a growing threat to traditional brand stores.
Brands need to up their games and come up with an innovative strategy to engage and retain customers in-stores. And although they need to keep up with the pace of offering e-commerce (which is a MUST), there are certain things that can mitigate the impact of showrooming.
For brand stores that allow online purchase options through websites and apps, it can be a good tactic to vary offering of products in-store and online, provide authentic reviews for users, and engage them with responsive design.
Research shows that 55% of shoppers are willing to sign up for a loyalty program to receive special benefits, and 48% of mobile shoppers are more likely to buy the product in-store even if it is cheaper online, if they are a part of a loyalty program.
A special, personalized store experience still beats online convenience. Investment in awesome customer service can take a brand a long, profitable way. Nordstorm is a great example of this!
Pop-up stores, in-store events, and an inviting atmosphere can be a real crowd-puller. Look at the Apple stores, they are less of a store, and more of a place to hang out! And although you can buy an Apple product from a ton of places online, including their website, you still see people camping outside the showroom for every new product launch!
The ultimate test to remain relevant in this online world is to propagate brand loyalty. An important must-do for this is interaction with the customer, especially on social media. The closer the customer feels to you, the more loyal they are likely to be.
Brands should harness technology to offer customers a relevant shopping experience. Brands like Target and Walmart are trying apps to drive people to their stores and websites, by allowing them to create shopping lists, sending alerts and coupons on the mobile devices for store purchases. Offering such personalized value through mobile devices can be a brands’ best bet to leverage the trend of showrooming! After all success today means, connecting with your customer at the most relevant point of contact, at a place most convenient to the customer, providing value which is most important to the customer!
On that note, with the onset of the Apple watch, it will be quite interesting to see if this wearable tech and easy pay will once again change the rules of this dynamic e-commerce world.