Showrooming describes a shopping practice where the consumers visit physical stores to learn everything they want to know about a particular product before buying it online. With the easy access to price comparison and online shopping sites, this practice has become more widespread. Consumers are more likely to compare the prices and opt for an online purchase, which is often cheaper than buying in a physical store.
Showrooming poses a new challenge for physical shops, which are now in direct competition with their virtual counterparts. But this change in the consumer habits can also be beneficial to physical stores
The consumer tries a product or learns how it works in a physical store, before making the purchase online, often at a better price. This trend affects all type of products, including electronic appliances, textile, accessories and much more.
The proliferation of mobile devices permanently connected to the internet also helps to promote this practice in many ways. Consumers can connect to the internet and compare prices during their visit in the physical store. They can read reviews on specialized websites and then decide to make the purchase or not. And finally they can visit shops to learn about new products and then search for cheaper alternatives online or in other shops (competitor).
What are the risks of Showrooming for physical shops?
According to a global study conducted by DigitasLBI, 80% consumers are willing to leave a store if they can find (when making a search on their smartphone) the same product at a cheaper price (at least 10% discount) in another store or online.
There's always a risk for a brand to see customers defecting to other stores or online shopping websites. But however there is a possibility for physical stores to reverse the situation and take advantage of showrooming.
New challenges for physical shops
Showrooming poses new challenges for physical stores. The environment and the consumer approach must be modified to meet the expectations and behavior of the consumer:
Accompany the changes in consumer habits.
Propose new alternatives and new services to customers in physical stores.
Promote synergy between the physical and virtual store.
By doing so, brands can promote another type of behavior called webrooming, where consumers examine a product and its features online before buying in a physical store.
DigitasLBI indicates that 86% of consumers surveyed search for products on online sources before buying in stores. The arguments in favor of purchasing through a physical store were: immediate product availability, order online and pick up in store (web to store) and the proximity of the store.
How to take advantage of showrooming
Build customer loyalty
The establishment of a cross-channel strategy, which involves the use of multiple media to better support the customers through the buying decision process can help improve customer retention. This may involve the use social networks (Facebook page, Instagram account, foursquare), a mobile app dedicated to the brand, a newsletter or through the establishment of loyalty program (loyalty card). The consumer may also be guided in his buying process during a visit on the website (online shopping or showcase website) of the brand.
Learn more: Cross Channel Strategy - Promoting the Synergy Between Physical and Virtual Stores
Promote synergy between the physical and virtual store
Bridging the gap between the physical and virtual store may involve the following:
A virtual catalog: available in outlets (on a tablet or screen): provide information about the products or complementary services to customers.
Locate the closest points of sale for users: promote or develop a web-to-store service
How to change consumer shopping experience in physical stores
Consumer experience in the store can be facilitated through the implementation of simple technologies:
Tablets or touch screens (digital kiosk): to view product specifications.
Free internet connectivity: Make comparison with other products easier by offering WiFi access to your customers.
Contactless payment: Facilitate payment (Apple Pay, NFC...).
Geofencing: Trigger a specific action (send a push message) when a customer is near the store (geofence).