If you manage and/or own a small retail store you have/will be challenged by showrooming.
- What is it? From Wiktionary.org …inspecting merchandise in a physical store, then purchasing the identical product from an online merchant; using a physical store as a showroom for an online merchant.
- What has happened? Firms like Best Buy, Target and others have lost sales to Amazon and other online merchants. And that is after potential customers have visited their locations to get the look and feel of the item.
The good news is that most in-store online comparison shoppers stay put. According to Pew (Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2012) 35% bought from the retailer’s store location where they were comparison-shopping, 19% bought online and only 8% went to another store. If approached the right way, immediacy can work wonders for conversion. After all, they are in your store. You have their attention. Why not show your in-store prospects that they can research the product with their smart phones without looking at an online competitor?
The question then becomes, What can a brick and mortar store do to capture as many sales as possible from smart phone users?
First. Smart phones are not the enemy. There have been a very few instances where one retail outlet or another has attempted to block the ability to scan items in the store. Also, technology like Google Goggles makes it likely that most products will be identified by a photo with pricing and reviews available to the user of a smartphone. Google Goggles-type technology eliminates even the need to scan a bar code. It is better to engage your customers rather than turning away those who use smartphones.
Update August 23, 2012
I was thinking about Google Goggles, so I downloaded the Google Goggles app to my Android smart phone. Here is a vitamin that I take, purchased from Rite Aid. Looks like I might have saved a couple of bucks.
Best Buy is reported to have begun a training course for store personnel to recognize showrooming, along with a store redesign that allows checkouts within the store (among other things), rather than just the large bank of registers in the front of the store. What exactly the training Best Buy is offering remains to be discovered. However, customer engagement in the store will be part of the training. Read more here.
The strategy that seems to work the best is to place QR Codes near, or on a display that gives your customer more information about the product after the smart phone scan. If practical, the mobile landing page would also allow you to prominently display a “We meet competitors’ deals.” Of course, if shipping is not included in the online offer, then adding that back in would be a wise part of the negotiation.
Of course signs in your store that display something like,”Why pay the same or more online when you can buy here, in your community.” Obviously, if you have a “meet or beat” policy, then certainly use that message referring to online competitors. Let them know that when they purchase locally, they are contributing to their community by supporting local business. Not only that, where will they get service when they need it?
The Blade has more ideas to help you with your anti-showrooming strategy. Print ads can include a QR Code that sends your prospect to an attractive mobile landing page that describes your deal for the customer and why it is better to buy from your store.
As everyone knows QR Codes are not rocket science. However, making them work the way you would expect may be a little more daunting than it seems. Here, I discuss why QR Codes in print ads need more work than you may want to take on yourself. Of course, The Blade stands ready to assist any of your mobile efforts, or answer questions regarding mobile strategies that would work for your store.