‘Showrooming’ an Opportunity to Enhance Experience & Boost Sales

By Stevie Sleeter, Content & Social Media Manager

Published: November 21, 2012

Seventy percent of shoppers planning to ‘showroom’ this season say they are more likely to buy from retailers that offer mobile commerce options.

With more than 152 million consumers planning to brave the crowds this weekend, it’s clear the Black Friday tradition is here to stay. But as brick and mortar retailers prepare by amping up their workforce, stringing holiday lights and stocking shelves, they have one more thing to worry about this season, a new competitor: smartphones.

Showrooming an Opportunity to Enhance Customer Experience and Boost Sales

This holiday season 48 million shoppers — about 20 percent of the U.S. adult population — will use their smartphones to compare prices and research products while shopping in stores, a practice known as ‘showrooming.’ Much of that in-store research will turn into competitor’s online sales, according to Aprimo, who found that one in five showroomers ultimately used the information to buy elsewhere.

Big ticket items like electronics and home goods, with clothing and footwear closely trailing in third, are most susceptible to this practice, which is expected to influence $700 million to $1.7 billion in retail purchases this holiday season.

Although it seems like it, the advent of ‘showrooming’ is not all doom and gloom for brick and mortar retailers. In fact, this shift in consumer buying habits and reliance on mobile devices presents a rather significant opportunity to get a leg up on competition.

Here are a few ways how:

  • Price matching
  • Exceptional in-store experiences
  • A long-term mobile strategy
While the first two offer quick hit, short-term solutions, the real opportunity lies in leveraging mobile growth to enhance in-store experiences. It’s time to beef up your mCommerce game. Smartphones and mobile behavior aren’t going away anytime soon.

If you are in a retail position, find creative ways to combat and compete with Internet retailers — apps, discounts, and an overall more robust personal and mobile experience. Evolve and play to your strengths by incorporating mobile technology into the selling process, thereby cementing yourselves as go to resources for consumers.

Though still in its infancy, there are signs that retailers who incorporate mobile strategies can at least slow the showrooming epidemic.

Moosejaw Mountaineering, an outdoor apparel and gear retailer, equips their in-store clerks with web enabled, card scanning iPods — which act both as sales tools and cash registers. This approach puts the control, for the most part, in the hands of the clerks, who are encouraged to use the device in a way that fosters the store’s overall sense of exploration and fun. So customers are given a unique experience — one that they won’t get purely looking at their cell phone.

Other retailers like Macy’s and American Eagle Outfitters treat store check-ins or visits as a game, giving consumers who come into the store and take certain actions (like trying on clothes in a fitting room) extra points — which over time, turn into store savings. Both actions that draw consumers into the store and encourage purchase.

This holiday season will be interesting all around — for retailers and consumers. But here’s the takeaway: Don’t think of the mobile web as an enemy, rather take this time to think about or rethink your mobile strategy and really leverage it as a sales enabler. After all, when the going get’s tough, the tough get mobile.