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How to combat showrooming and convert browsers to buyers

7th Nov 2013
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Today, smart device (mobiles and tablets) penetration continues to grow, with eMarketer estimating that smartphones represent c.60.4% of UK mobile phone users. Furthermore, according to comScore’s 2013 UK Digital Future in Focus report, a third of all page views in the UK are now via smartphones or tablets. 

Mobile is increasingly changing today's consumer’s buyer behaviour with mobile devices being used as the chosen medium to browse products, read reviews, and make purchases both at home, on the move, and in store. This view is complimented by the research The Logic Group has undertaken on the mobile consumer, conducted by Ipsos MORI, which shows that frequent mobile users are capitalising on new technology to make their retail journeys easier and more efficient.

It has been widely reported over the last 18 months that technology has rapidly changed the High Street, but retailers have been slow to evolve their in-store environments to meet the needs of a multichannel consumer. However, to claw back High Street sales, retailers need to deliver more than just a digital presence as eretail is blurring the lines between the real and online world. 

Let’s be clear; there isn’t a one-size-fits-all mobile solution. But there are a few key considerations that are useful for anyone planning to adopt a multichannel strategy to combat the realities of “shrowrooming”. 

Complement the in-store experience: This isn’t just about extending the retailers presence beyond the bricks-and-mortar store; it’s about creating an in-store experience that adds value to the customer journey whilst empowering in-store purchases. For retailers the focus should be how to engage the customer when they are in-store; by delivering the right content e.g. product reviews, product information, loyalty programmes and price matching, and therefore, removing the need to showroom. Whilst Mobile Point of Sale (MPoS) has grown exponentially is the US, UK retailers have started to realise the opportunity this presents in not only removing fixed PoS terminals – freeing up valuable floor space to sell more products, but more importantly mobilising staff to deliver a more personalised, clientele-based sales experience.

Aim for short-term success: Multichannel strategies aren’t formulated and deployed overnight. Retailers should define a roadmap with a view of short-term wins that put them on a path to longer-term success. Initially, retailers should focus on gathering data on what their customers want. By partnering with a trusted Payment Service Provider (PSP) that can support in-store analytics, retailers will be able to identify their shoppers’ desires and behaviours. For instance, some PSP's can support NFC-tagged smart posters that enable retailers to capture customer data whilst allowing fully-branded incentives to be delivered to consumers' NFC-enabled mobile devices with a simple tap. Offers can even be shared with customers over the air, through in-store, NFC-enabled retailer apps.

Long-term vision and optimisation: The business impact of mobile will not just be restricted to sales; it will encompass the various facets of the customer journey and will touch all parts of the retailer’s business. As such, backend systems will need to be tightly integrated to offer a seamless experience across all channels – for the consumer as well as the retailer. High-value contactless capabilities will be rolled out in the next 12-18 months as mobile wallets gain favour with consumers. In parallel, current ecommerce solutions such as MasterCard’s MasterPass and Visa’s V.me will also transition to become in-store mCommerce solutions. As consumers have become used to one-click shopping online, mobile payment solutions can deliver a similar in-store experience by removing the need to queue or pay at a fixed Point of Sale. This increases the consumers in-store experience by providing the convenience of allowing consumers to make purchases anywhere in the store, whilst enabling retailer’s sales assistants to focus is on how they can best meet their needs.

Security and compliance: As retailers endeavour to adopt multichannel customer interaction strategies to dramatically improve the consumer’s shopping experience, they need to be diligent about data security and standards compliance. This will help to instil consumer confidence in new payment technologies. Until now, retailers have been primarily burdened with the task of securely managing customer data in order to limit their risk to fraudulent activity and demonstrate Payments Card Industry (PCI) compliance. The result is often costly and can involve investing several millions of pounds in the process. Retailers should ensure that their PSP can help minimise the complexity of payment processing and reduce the burden of PCI DSS compliance across the multiple channels. From multichannel fraud prevention, 3D secure and tokenisation, to PCI DSS compliance and Point to Point Encryption (P2PE), retailers must seek a PSP partner who helps to make transaction processing as secure as possible across any channel.

Mark Prior-Egerton is solutions marketing manager at The Logic Group.

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