Showrooming is a term used to describe when consumers browse items at a brick-and- mortar store and then compare prices online. This has become another obstacle that retailers must face in a highly competitive landscape. As the consumer becomes more empowered with information they have commoditized shopping to “what is the best price”. The independent retailer can’t win in the price war game and if fact many of the big box retailers have determined it’s losing strategy for them also. Some retail segments have weaned their customers on the concept of “come to see us before you buy, we’ll beat any price”. The consumer has been conditioned to expect holiday sales to start early and the discounts to increase as the season progresses. It’s been a race to the bottom created by the “big guys” that has reduced profits and created an expectation by the consumer that prices will be lower tomorrow.
The auto industry has always been the poster child for the concept of come to see us with your best offer and we’ll beat it. Now even their tying to reeducate the consumer with new ad campaigns touting the new one low price for all message. I don’t think it will be successful but we’ll see. So how can the independent retailer deal with “Showrooming”. First you need to recognize that consumers begin their engagement with you before they come to store and continue it after they leave. Develop a Social media strategy that continually delivers the message on why you are different and unique. Offer a set of services that are value added for the customer and take you out of the commodity sales game.
Think in terms of “Concierge Services” that recognize and reward your best customers, the ones you don’t want to lose. A free bike tune up, re-grip your golf clubs, send up a picture of an area you want to landscape and have a plan for you when you come in. You get the concept. As much as the consumer loves a sale they also like being recognized as being special. Concierge is not just for the hospitality industry anymore.