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How can retailers reduce showrooming in their stores?

13th Dec 2012
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Megan Webb-Morgan shares advice on how to prevent the trend of showrooming taking a toll on your business.

Showrooming during the holidays can put a lot of strain on your business, employees and products. Having customers come into the store to try out your products, only to later purchase them online from a competitor, can be frustrating for you and damaging to your bottom line.
This holiday season, find ways to encourage your customers to buy in-store, and to make sure that their online purchases are from your website and not your competitors. To prevent the costs of showrooming from taking a toll on your business, you should work to improve your customers’ in-store experience, offer competitive and strategic pricing, and make your website the go-to place.
1. Competitive pricing
According to one analysis of recent Forrester Research regarding web-influenced retail sales, "As long as pricing is generally comparable across channels, consumers are unlikely to switch to another retailer or channel."
If you keep your in-store prices on the same general level as those found online, you are unlikely to lose customers based on pricing alone. This can be difficult when faced with the extreme cost-cutting and promotional deals prevalent on the web during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the entire month of December.
  • Competitive pricing and promotions still hold the greatest sway with shoppers, so be sure to offer deals that your customers can take advantage of. Use limited-time offers to encourage shoppers to buy now at your store – but make sure that those offers are compatible with the way your customers shop.
  • Offer coupons online that can only be redeemed in-store, and offer coupons in your store for customers to redeem on your retail websiteYour primary goal is to convince customers to buy while they're in your store; your secondary goal is to make sure your website is the one they choose when they do go online to shop.
2. Improve the in-store experience
There are a number of reasons that customers still shop in stores: immediate product availability, presence of service associates, and little perceived difference between online and in-store pricing. The best way to make showrooming customers complete their purchases inside the store is to emphasize the benefits of in-store shopping while still taking a page from the book of online retail.
  • Make sure your store associates are attentive and helpful. 25% of shoppers will make holiday purchases on their mobile device, so train your employees on how to use your mobile retail website; they can help customers navigate the site on their smartphones, access product information and reviews, and fulfill the sale in-store.
  • Be sure your store’s wireless and data connections are optimised and accessible to your customers. Rather than discouraging your customers from going online, motivate them to do their product research right there in the store on their mobile device. The more information they have at their fingertips, the more comfortable they will be to commit to an in-person sale.
  • Some stores have taken this practice to the next level by posting QR codes on their shelf tags that take the customer straight to product pages on their mobile website. The customer gets all the benefits of an in-store purchase – help from associates, instant gratification and possession of the product – while also gaining the all the extra information inherent in an online forum.
3. Guide them to your website
According to LivePerson’s 2012 Holiday E-Commerce Survey, 63% of respondents are planning to do a majority of their holiday shopping online. No matter how much you encourage your customers to buy your product from your retail store, there will always be some individuals who prefer to buy online. You need to make sure that when those showrooming shoppers leave your store and go online, they end up making the purchase from your website and not one of your competitors.
  • 29% of shoppers who showroom go home and buy on the retailer's website. Take advantage of this trend by making sure that your online and mobile retail sites are fully-functional, quick to load product pages, and filled with quality content and information. Just as your customers use your mobile site to make informed decisions in-store, they use your website for the same purposes at while shopping home.
  • A whopping 94% of surveyed respondents replied they were likely to use live chat to get help while shipping online. If your website doesn’t have live chat enabled, you’re missing out on an important opportunity for encouraging sales on your site.
For many types of products, shoppers want to investigate the item in-person before they commit to buying it from the store or online. This need for a showroom drives shoppers to your store, and gives you the opportunity to turn them into satisfied customers.
Provide them with competitive pricing, a helpful atmosphere, and the convenience of online shopping while inside the store, and you’ll see both your in-store and online sales increase.
Megan Webb-Morgan is a web content writer for ResourceNation. She writes about small business, focusing on topics such as business sales. Follow Resource Nation on Facebook and Twitter, too!

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