The Showrooming Challenge
In case you have never heard the term, “showrooming” is the practice of going to a retail store, testing out the products, investigating them, and then ordering them online from a competitor who charges less. Showrooming can be a big problem for retail stores. The reason is because it allows customers to gain critical product knowledge without being tempted to make a purchase.
So, in a sense, showrooming is sort of like a retailer providing free advertising for cheaper online retail stores, who then end up getting the sales. This can hurt retail profits. However, brick and mortar retailers are fighting back against showrooming. Here are some strategies that can be used to combat showrooming.
1. Optimize for mobile. The more optimized for mobile that a brick and mortar store is, the less likely it is to lose heavy amounts of sales to online retail store competitors. Brick and mortar retailers can appeal to mobile users within their stores by integrating mobile compatible payment methods to their POS system.
They can also do things like provide coupons for the brick and mortar store that can be accessed with smart phones. Both of these things can incentivize people to use their mobile devices to shop in the actual retail store.
2. Block Showrooming Capabilities. Many people who participate in showrooming use price comparison apps to find lower prices online. However, to quickly make comparisons on these apps, scanning barcodes is often necessary. So, retail companies can make their barcodes impossible to scan for the comparison apps.
Blocking showrooming capabilities can also be done with technology that can block apps entirely. However, this is more of an extreme measure, and is not currently used heavily by retailers.
3. Removing Products From Online Retailers. Many retail stores also sell their products on websites like Amazon, or eBay. However, if these sales are cutting too much into brick and mortar profits, then retail stores can remove their products from these major online retailers. This can help to stop the losses from showrooming.
Many people like to shop on their mobile devices. It is convenient and it often allows you to quickly check competitor prices. However, when people use their mobile devices to showroom, it can cut into retail store profits. There are things that can be done to prevent this, such as optimizing for mobile, block showrooming capabilities, and removing products from online retailers.
However, smart phone usage is a trend that is not likely to disappear anytime soon. So, it may be best for retail stores to try to adapt to mobile technology, rather than to fight against it. This may be the best way to protect profits.