33% of people showroom globally and 21% of those shoppers use their phone while doing so. In their annual Mobile Life Study, fellow Kantar company, TNS, highlights the growing use of “showrooming”: examining a product in-store before buying online at a lower price. Consumers are getting more comfortable with mobile transactions, savvier with mobile shopping apps, and they’re doing more mobile shopping, all the time—presenting new opportunities for brands to engage with potential customers and curb the loss of sales to showrooming.
Shoppers’ de-facto path to purchase will soon revolve around mobile devices, and digital marketers need to be ready. Instead of pushing back, marketers can make this shift work for them. With all the data available, marketers can identify when and where consumers are most open to marketing messages during the purchase process – and then strategically optimize touch points when it matters the most. Mobile is an excellent channel to engage customers, especially in-store.
What should retailers do?
So, mobile is both a curse and a cure for showrooming. It’s empowering consumers in each individual path to purchase, and in some cases, retailers may be losing potential customers while they are in store. Here are a few suggestions.
Embrace, don’t fight, showrooming. One of the most popular “victims” of showrooming has been consumer electronics giant, Best Buy. As the retail community doubted Best Buy’s future, the chain faced showrooming tactics head-on by matching online prices–and its stock is up 112% this year.
Offer unique products. If your company is big enough, create custom or unique products that are only available in store.
Offer in-store reviews. Make the digital review analog. Consider publishing all online reviews on or near your products. If they can’t find reviews on your mobile site or mobile app, they’ll see a published, recent review and be more inclined not to showroom at home or on their phones.
Regardless of technology or platform, focus on the brand by diving deep into, and understanding, your consumer’s purchase journey. The originally online-only eye-glass retailer, Warby Parker, is actually taking their online model offline to a retail location in Manhattan. Even if most of their sales take place online—successful ecommerce retailers see the benefit of a physical showroom. Even eBay is trying to bridge the gap between online and physical sales by launching touch screen virtual “shoppable windows” in New York City this month.
Enable and empower showroomers. They will use their phones anyway, so provide free WiFi for a better experience. Offer free mobile apps in-store and the opportunity to purchase an item in-store via a mobile app—according to the TNS study, 30% of shoppers are interested in completing their purchase on their phone Also make sure your site is optimized for mobile; 86.5% of mobile shoppers prefer mobile browser shopping to shopping apps according to Compete’s 2013 Shopper Intelligence Survey.
Digitize your store and your employees. Take a cue from Apple and create digital shopping ‘experiences’ which bring digital technology into stores. Can your employees check customers out with their iPhones? If not, why not? Smaller retailers could do this with ease using a mobile payment system like square.
Customer service can turn the tide of a purchase in any direction. If your employees are well-trained on your products and service, and offer personalized attention with technical or special insight, customers will remember and appreciate this.
Tyson Goodridge is a marketing contractor for Compete and advises the team on best practices with product launches, social media, content development and B2B marketing. He’s a happy Dad to two precocious little boys, a (somewhat) obedient husband to his lovely bride, and a lonely NY sports fan living in New England. His passions are putting people and ideas together, reading, entertaining, and good food and wine. You can find him on Vine at Tyson Goodridge, and on Twitter @goodridge.