Brick-and-mortar retailers are howling about "showrooming" — i.e., consumers browsing in-store to see, touch and experience products, only to return home to buy those some products online at a cheaper price. But what if retailers could turn showrooming into an advantage?
Learn to meet the needs of the always-connected shopper by evolving your marketing strategies, notably making mobile a top priority.
Wal-Mart has been vocal about its intention to aggressively build its online business, but there's one thing it needs to change first: getting its own in-store shoppers to shop at Walmart.com. Just 19 percent of Wal-Mart in-store shoppers shop at Walmart.com, compared to 53 percent of those who also buy at Amazon.com, according to a UBS report, citing Kantar Retail data. "Its first task will be to increase its penetration of shoppers using Walmart.com," wrote UBS Analyst Jason DeRise. "In many ways, it's missed out on the opportunity while it focused on other areas over the last 10 years."
Brick-and-mortar retailers’ fears about "showrooming," where consumers use stores to browse and research products before buying them online, may be real but the phenomenon is still not used by most shoppers. According to an IBM survey of 30,554 consumers globally at the end of November, only 8 percent of them said they "showroomed," despite an increase from 6 percent in the prior year. Meanwhile, the survey showed 30 percent of total online purchases resulted from showrooming, a drop from about 50 percent a year earlier.
Big-box department store Nordstrom has decided that if you can't beat online retailers, you should join 'em. It's renting out space in its stores to the Seattle-based online bridal jewelry company Blue Nile in hopes that it can seize upon the practice of showrooming. So new it was only given a name about two years ago, showrooming refers to the practice of shoppers looking at an item in-store and then using their mobile device to comparison shop for it elsewhere.
As the holiday season swings into gear so does competitive shopping, with consumers scoping out merchandise in physical stores and then comparison shopping for the lowest price on their mobile device, dubbed "showrooming." In an effort to combat or "embrace" this phenomenon, some retailers, led by Best Buy, have implemented strategies including price matching to convert more shoppers into buyers. Nobody is winning in this new game — not manufacturers, retailers or consumers.
As the year comes to a close, it's time for my annual roundup of omnichannel retail predictions for the year ahead. I'm focusing on a few interesting trends I saw come to light in 2013 that I believe will become even more widespread next year. Enjoy!
This holiday season is an extraordinary convergence of calendars and opportunities as the economy seems to have thawed for most retailers. However, with Thanksgiving falling on the first day of Hanukkah, the Christmas season is shorter than ever, forcing retailers to launch holiday promotions before Halloween, much to the dismay of many consumers. So how can leading retailers extend the shortened shopping season to take advantage of the great opportunities this holiday season presents? In short, rethink showrooming.
Despite conventional industry wisdom, shoppers who use mobile devices for showrooming are almost twice as likely to purchase from the retailer in-store or online (38 percent) than buy elsewhere (21.6 percent). A new study from e-commerce technology provider SeeWhy finds that one-third of more than 60,000 consumers surveyed who owned a mobile device had used it as part of their shopping process, and 12 percent do it routinely. When asked about the actions shoppers took when using a mobile device in-store, the most common behaviors were looking for cheaper prices elsewhere (35 percent) and reading reviews of the product (34 percent).