Showcasing is yet another new wrinkle that the internet and mobile technology has brought to our culture. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s when someone goes to a brick and mortar store to look at an item but fully intends to make their purchase online. This isn’t a new behavior but it’s certainly been on the increase for the past decade.
Smartphones have really contributed to the increase of this practice. Now shoppers can compare prices on the go, right there in the store. In fact, “showroomers” as they’re called, use their phones in retail establishments 50-60% of the time.
They might be comparing prices, checking product reviews or even creating a shopping list for later.
Whether you own a retail establishment or not, you can see the rub. The retailer goes to the expense and time to stock the item, the person actually is in their store and yet – they still don’t buy it there. There’s no reward to the retailer at all for helping the shopper get exactly what they want.
When asked, the number one reason cited for showcasing is price. Almost 3/4ths of showroomers checked and discovered that they could get a better price online. Interestingly – very few of them had ever asked the retailer to match the lower price.
Almost 50% of the time, the shopper walked into the store fully intending to actually purchase it later but they wanted to see the item before they made the purchase or do a little legwork before they went home and made the buy.
One of the main reasons for not making the purchase? They did not want to carry the item home. Many showroomers have gotten very used to the convenience of home delivery and as we know – in most cases, they are not paying extra for that service.
Interestingly – these shoppers are different from the “I like to shop at 2 am shoppers” who rate the 24/7 access as the primary reason they shop online.
The retailers own some of this trend too. If 50% of the showroomers walked into the store intending to buy online, that means the other 50% intended to make their purchase right there in the store. So why didn’t they?
About half of them discovered that the store didn’t actually have the product they were interested in on their shelves. The store was out of stock or didn’t offer some of the conveniences (like free home delivery) that could swing the decision.
But this isn’t all gloomy news for retailers. There are also plenty of shoppers who are reverse showroomers. They do their research online but want to buy locally, for a variety of reasons.
So what should a retailer do, to encourage the showroomers to buy immediately rather than going online to shop and at the same time, to keep the reverse showroomers happy?
Increase the caliber of your sales staff: Make sure they know the merchandise and also have the tools in the store to get an answer if they don’t know. They also need more sales training so they can be genuinely helpful.
Over service to keep selling: Try a mix of price matching, free home delivery, extended warranties, tech support and checking in on customers after the sale. An online store can’t offer that level of service.
Leverage their phone time: Why not send time sensitive coupons and offers to their phone using geo-targeting to get them to buy right now? Invite them to use your in store wifi and help them comparison shop.
This connection between our mobile devices and shopping isn’t going away. This is the new normal and if anything – it’s going to get more pervasive. Retailers have to find a way to leverage showcasing to their advantage.