What to do about showrooming?

Showrooming appears to be on the mind of most retailers. For those without a multi-channel it is a big problem, but even those with multiple channels, there are practical difficulties (such as price harmonisation, as explained here.)

Zendesk published a survey (a summary and exposition here) and found amongst other things that:

Showrooming is alive and well. 67% of online shoppers have made purchases in the past six months that have involved multiple channels, e.g., visited a store, looked at a catalogue, or called the retailer before purchasing online.

A much better approach was by Ryan Healy, asking how showrooming can be used to your advantage. (Read the comments for ideas.)

Showrooming must not be defended against, and actually must not even be turned to advantage. It is now just a plain and simple fact of life.

At the core of the solution is the mobile phone. But it is not about the technology. Mobile phones simply represent a more convenient way to use a telephone and computer and a camera etc. Customers have ALWAYS wanted convenience and this will not change in our lifetimes.

Paul Wallbank wrote a piece on ‘delighting the customer being the new normal’. It would be easy to gloss over this sentiment and think that this has always been the case. But ‘customer delight’ is significantly removed from customer relations, customer service or customer satisfaction. To delight a customer requires the delivery of an experience that is an order of magnitude better and different to what is currently considered ‘normal’.

In fact that same Zendesk survey points out that only 7% are "extremely satisfied" that brands provide a seamless, integrated, and consistent customer service experience across channels.

That leaves a lot of room for improvement. But the fact that hardly anyone is doing this right is also a massive opportunity for those who do so first.

The question everyone asks of course is …HOW?

Unfortunately the answer to that is not simple and neither is there one answer for every retailer. It really does depend on the retail proposition, the format, the market and your infrastructure. The solution will involve technology, which suggests you may have to consider your affinity with technology, your pain threshold, your tolerance for ambiguity and the depth of your pockets.

In the meantime, there is another universal truth about customers. (Convenience is the other as mentioned earlier.) This truth is that customers always have and always will seek VALUE.

They don’t buy on price. (That is NOT primarily what showrooming is all about in most categories.) If you knew how to create and sell value in your store, showrooming is a secondary factor in the customer’s decision making process.

The only category of product where it is mostly about price, is when a consumer has to make a grudge purchase (e.g. fuel) and few readers here would be in that space.

Learn to offer value and make it convenient. That is the foundation (not the solution) for delighting customers. Without a foundation, the retail proposition is rarely sustainable, and whatever solution you devise to embrace showrooming, it is more likely to work as intended.

Have fun


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