“Showrooming” Is Good For You

showroom is good for you green“And I’m in so deep, you know I’m such a fool for you
You got me wrapped around your finger
Do you have to let it linger
Do you have to, do you have to
Do you have to let it linger
“Linger”  written by Dolores Mary O’Riordan & Noel Hogan, performed by The Cranberries

“Showrooming” is undoubtedly the word of the year in retail. Describing the practice of consumers visiting a bricks and mortar retailer to view products before purchasing them elsewhere, it has been debated throughout 2012 as a vile scourge that should be stopped, an unfortunate byproduct of the smartphone revolution, or more recently as an activity to be welcomed.  The practice will likely increase in 2013. Retailers should hope that it does and should create store environments that encourage it.

“I’m in so deep, you know I’m such a fool for you”

The opposition to showrooming has mystified me. Traditional retailers have always considered the number of individuals crossing the threshold an important metric. How can you sell if they don’t show up? Once customers are in your store you can work all your retail magic on them. Comfortable temperatures, attractive displays, knowledgeable personnel, the chance to surprise and delight. Bricks and mortar stores literally have the customer in their grasp.

“You got me wrapped around your finger”

Physical retailers now have an extremely valuable bit of information about these visitors – a vast number of them will be carrying a smartphone and using it while they shop.  Here are some recent numbers: 67% of in-store customers prefer to get information by using their phones than by asking a salesperson; 66% will look for product reviews online while shopping; 53% will do a price check. Smartphone owners have a higher in-store conversion rate and spend more than non-owners. These showrooming visitors spend more time and money in the store.

“Do you have to let it linger?”

Showrooming is an opportunity not to be missed. Retailers can enhance connectivity in their stores by offering free wifi and providing recharging stations in dedicated ‘phone lounges’ within the store, complete with comfortable chairs and the free use of tablets to access the retailer’s website. Product displays could contain QR codes to be scanned to get product information, suggestions of related merchandise or special offers. Each scan could earn points in a loyalty or rewards program or generate a same-day in-store coupon. All of these techniques would enhance customer engagement and provide an advantage over web-only merchants.

“Do you have to, do you have to Do you have to let it linger?”

Bricks and mortar retailers have the resource to attract customers and encourage them to ‘linger’ in their stores. As more than 90% of credit card transactions are still done in person, and with the advent of mobile payments to make buying goods even simpler, retailers should utilize the behaviors that have created showrooming to their advantage,  My firm belief is the longer you look at something the more you are going to want to buy it. Touching, smelling or tasting increases those odds and can only happen within a store. Showrooming draws people focused on purchasing decisions and primed to buy. An incredible gift and opportunity for physical stores. Unlike Dolores O’Riordan’s plaintive wailing, these retailers should be joyously shouting: “You have to let (them) linger.”

-Andrew D’Amico

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