There has been a lot of discussion about the problem of showrooming but really it’s an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers.
Showrooming is where a shopper goes into a store to get expert advice and product information but then goes to an online competitor to buy the product at a lower price. Very frustrating for stores and typically most common with electrical and technology products.
How to respond?
Retailers have used various techniques to limit damage to sales. It seems crazy now but when showrooming started some retailers banned the use of mobile phone cameras and apps with bar code scanners. That approach upset shoppers and did not last long. Now the more common tools are price matching and added value services.
Several retailers we are working with are countering showrooming by taking some sales and marketing techniques from online resellers such as customer reviews and plan to adopt even more of them. Providing lots of valued product information encourages some shoppers to want the product now without having to wait for an online retailer to deliver.
What Target did
Apparently Target in the USA got frustrated by shoppers asking lots of questions about the Kindle in their stores and then buying it on-line from Amazon. As a result Target stopped selling Kindle.
What Target are doing now is to open “store within a store” (SWAS) areas with Apple. So Apple get more sales and Target gets fees from Apple and more profit per unit sold. Shoppers will now get lots of information about how good the iPad is for reading books and no information on Kindle. This is one way to capitalise on the showrooming effect.
Of course SWAS had been used by UK retailers for some time and it’s definately ramping up. So perhaps the way to deal with showrooming, particularly in an omnichannel environment, is to take it to the max.