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Showrooming – The Brick and Mortar Dilemma

Showrooming - The Brick and Mortar Dilemma

Today’s blog post is a bit different than most of our typical direct marketing articles. From time to time, we like to inject our blog with unique business or marketing related content to keep things fresh and interesting.

So that being said, have you heard the term “showrooming”? If not, continue reading…

The increasing number of people switching to online shopping is quite alarming for those who carry out brick-and-mortar retail operations. Over the years, more people have started preferring virtual markets, making it extremely difficult for brick-and-mortar retailers to keep afloat. However, an even more alarming scenario that these retailers are now faced with is the practice of “showrooming”, which is responsible for putting these retailers under an overwhelming threat of losing their customers to retailers.

If this sounds new to you, read on to discover what showrooming actually is and how brick-and-mortar retailers can fight back to retain their walk-in customers and encourage them to make a purchase right then and there.

What Is Showrooming?

Showrooming is a practice that is fast becoming popular among buyers nowadays. Basically, it is when customers visit retailers’ brick and mortar stores and browse through their products without purchasing anything. Once they make up their mind about a product, they go home and browse for the product online, typically on Amazon, and make the purchase there. By purchasing online, these people deal with your competitors, hurting the bottom line of your store. Unfortunately, showrooming has become the norm, especially due to the lower price of products available online. Since online stores have lower overhead costs, they can afford to sell their products at a lower cost than their brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Strategies to Encourage In-Store Purchasing

While statistics clearly show that customers prefer making online purchases, the fact remains that they first like to see products in real life, which is why showrooming has emerged. For this same reason, the ability to check the product physically, and the instant gratification it offers, customers can also be influenced to pay slightly more for in-store purchases. Therefore, there is still hope for retailers to win back their customers and encourage them to purchase in-store.

To pull this off, physical stores should pull off a number of strategies, including the following three.

1. Price Your Products Right

Customers are sometimes willing to pay a bit extra while shopping in the real world for several reasons like customers service, the ability to check the physical aspects of products, and the satisfaction of getting a product then and there. However, there is a limit to what customers would pay, so retailers should keep this price gap realistic. The closer your prices are to those advertised online, the more people would buy from you.

2. Provide Post-Purchase Benefits

The most important thing that can play to your advantage against online retailers is offering post-purchase benefits to your customers. These benefits could include set-up and installation, product usage tutorials, extraordinary service, after-sale warranties and telephone support. One of the major reasons why people are skeptic of making online purchases is that they cannot contact the retailer once the purchase is made. With brick-and-mortar stores, they know exactly where to find you if they ever need you.

3. Deliver the Best Customer Service

Among the many factors that can make customers purchase in-store, your customer service during their visit is of utmost importance. When customers are shopping online, they simply search for what they need whereas finding a specific product in a large retail store can be a challenge. With the help of exemplary customer service, you will not only help your customers find everything they need, but can also provide them with the information they require. For this kind of personal interaction and wonderful service level, you need a highly trained workforce that is aware of the products available in the store.

If you follow these strategies, you can convince a large majority of your customers to leave with their purchases when they visit your store. However, one thing that you should not do is discourage people from browsing online. In fact, you can learn a lesson from Best Buy, which offers in-store Wi-Fi for its customers, allowing them to make comparisons. Since they offer the best prices, services and support, they are confident that they deliver the best value to their customers.

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I'm the Director of Digital Services and Partner at Ballantine, a family-owned and operated direct mail & digital marketing company based in New Jersey. and started in 1966 by my great uncle!