Retailers integrate “showrooming”

Woman smartphoneby Tony Fannin, CEO/Partner, BE Branded  |

“Showrooming” has been a recent challenge for many brick-and-mortar retailers (this is where customers go into a store, play with the buttons, feel the material and have a hands-on experience with the product, then go online to find a better price.) It has fed the myth that people will no longer shop at physical stores anymore, but will only do their shopping online.

This may be true for select product categories, but there are three factors that have started to reverse this trend over this past holiday season:

1. Better integration – Physical retailers have started to catch up with their online experience in a big way this year. Their online and in-store shopping experience have been more tightly integrated. Some retailers help their customers “showroom” and go online right there in the store. They have created the right blend of what people want – a better in-store experience where they learn as much as they shop and the convenience to go online and see the best pricing. The advantage physical retailers have is immediacy. If you are standing in the store, find a better price, many retailers will match it on the spot. No waiting for shipping. And most (good) people like to reward the employee who took their time to help educate, listen and meet their specific needs by giving them the sale.

2. Feeling is believing – There are still many product categories where shoppers do not want to buy online without experiencing the product first. Electronics, apparel, shoes and even food. Costco, for example, is like an ultimate showroom. There’s something to sit in, feel and taste around just about every isle. Many retailers are learning to leverage their one advantage of having brick-and-mortar, they can deliver unique experiences through in-store special offerings, learn from real humans and ultimately, actually experience the product before buying.

3. Ship date is not a guarantee – As many online shoppers found out this holiday season, packages don’t always arrive in time. There have been a flood of complaints of missed ship dates for many customers. UPS, FedEx and USPS all have done their best, but could not keep up with the orders and deliver them in time for Christmas Day (much of this is the fault of the online site for having their cutoff date too close to Christmas). I have some friends who ordered products online in hoping to get them before business and vacation trips, only to learn they will arrive AFTER they have departed for their destination.

As it has always been true, no one method of marketing is the silver bullet. Creating a unique brand experience takes an integrated approach of your online, in-store experience and all forms of advertising (not online only as well, but integrated.) If you just depend online, you end up being a commodity fighting for price points. More online companies are planning to build brick-and-mortar stores because they too understand, it takes more than just being online to succeed in retail (but that discussion is for another time.)


About Be Branded

Tony Fannin is of President of BE Branded, an integrated marketing firm who helps clients BE Somebody to their customers. If you aren't somebody, then you are commodity.

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