Showrooming is the new buzzword used to describe when customers look at products in your retail store, then take out their smartphones to purchase the products at a lower price online. You become, in essence, a “showroom” for your productsbut someone else gets the sale. While the idea of showrooming can rub retail store owners the wrong way, recent research indicates that smartphones can actually be more helpful than brick-and-mortar merchants may think.
A collection of marketing experts known as the Google Shopping Council has released a survey which sheds some light on the habits of shoppers. The study revealed that 84 percent of mobile shopping respondents use their smartphones to assist in making purchases inside physical stores, not just for showrooming. In other words, smartphones are becoming part of the buying experience.
Instead of wincing when customers pull out smartphones in your store, perhaps you can adapt your business practices to encourage smartphone usage, either by tweaking your current website or by adding more virtual features into your physical store. Here are some suggestions:
- Centralize all product sales and promotions in one spot on your website: Making a “Promotions” or “Current Deals” page allows customers to view all the discounts that are available, instead of trying to juggle flyers, circulars, and coupons.
- Facilitate price comparisons of similar items: E-commerce sites have been doing this for years. Why not set up your website to allow side-by-side comparisons of items you sell? This keeps in-store shoppers on your website, instead of price-comparing somewhere else.
- Facilitate price comparisons from other stores: Do you claim to have the lowest prices? Put your money where your mouth is. Imagine how powerful it would be to prove that assertion to customers by letting them check out your competitors (on a page on your site, of course) and confirm that your prices are indeed lower.
- Allow access to your inventory database: If customers want to buy an item, or large quantities of an item, let them check product availability on their smartphones.
- Link products to additional information: This is a common way that customers use their smartphones. They want to find out information about products without opening the packages or squinting to read small print on labels. Consider using QR codes that lead customers to a “more information” page.
- Link products to review sites: Smartphone users love to see what others think of a particular product before making a purchase, so link the items you sell to one or more popular review sites, so customers can get other opinions.
A good business owner knows how to make lemonade out of lemons. Instead of bemoaning the possibility of showrooming, why not welcome in customers who use their smartphones, and boost your sales as a result?