Showrooming: A Retailers Evil Nemesis…..Or Not!

If you read any business journal these days, you’re bound to come across an article on “showrooming”—a new term that has been rewarded with its own Wikipedia definition (we should all be so lucky!)
Showrooming is the practice of examining merchandise in a traditional brick and mortar retail store without purchasing it, but then shopping online to find a lower price for the same item. Online stores often offer lower prices than brick and mortar stores because they do not have the same overhead cost
If you’re in retail, however, you don’t need a definition. You’re probably seeing some version of it every day. Here’s some good news: It doesn’t seem to be as bad as some initially predicted:
In fact, customers still WANT to shop with you. Shoppers want to have a memorable—or at least, efficient—experience when they’re in your store. Everyone has a unique shopping style, of course, but customers are united in what they despise: Don’t ignore them when they want help. As I see it, Showrooming is just a response by consumers to take back control of their shopping experience.  They are tired of being ignored in your store. They are tired of being ‘served” by someone who is unprepared, disinterested, distracted or rude. And this is happening every day! 64% of all customer complaints are similar: “No one spoke to me the entire time I was in the store”. Customers with a smartphone can at least have contact!
Showroomers (hey, if “showrooming” is a verb, then I should be able to make up an appropriate noun!) are just tired of being ignored and are doing something about it! You’ve probably seen the signs in some businesses that read, “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”….well, today’s consumer is just saying, “I reserve the right to refuse your service.”
My assistant (and daughter…), Rebekah recently read an article that pointed out the obvious: It is cheaper, healthier, simpler and more convenient to cook and eat at home. However, people still GO OUT TO RESTAURANTS to eat! Why would they do this when it’s clearly not the best choice? They do it because they LIKE it. They like the social interaction. They like being served. They like having someone else clean up. They like a new experience. It’s fun and relaxing!
When shoppers come into your store, remember this: They’ve dressed, researched your location, driven to your parking lot, fought the weather, traffic, etc. and walked into your front door. THEY WANT TO BE THERE. They want an experience. Our opportunity is to give them one!
Yes, Brick and Mortar retail is in competition with Click and Order retail. But we still have an advantage. Customers want a memorable shopping experience.  Technology can provide quick, complex answers with easy access to infinite detail. But your in-store experience can be organic, natural, custom, sincere, connected, personalized and emotional. I know of a few retailers who have asked showroomers to “leave their store”. I’d rather we focus our attention on developing a meaningful in-store shopping experience and ensuring that all our staff members know how to deliver it. Today’s consumer has numerous options—make sure yours is unsurpassed!

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