Showrooming: Adapt Brand Strategy to Evolving Consumer Behavior

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Showrooming: Adapt Brand Strategy to Evolving Consumer Behavior

By Achim Schneider - 03/20/2017

Just hearing the term “Showrooming” used to be enough to make brands shudder. The concept of consumers entering stores, browsing products, asking questions, using samples, then leaving empty handed was considered a missed opportunity.

After all, until recently, salespeople have been conditioned to use all means to convert a sale; it was part of their job description, not to mention their compensation model. But with online becoming increasingly relevant to every shopper journey, it’s become critical for retailers & brands to understand the modern shopper journey and refine their strategies to better meet consumer expectations and demands.

In actuality, showrooming shouldn’t be a cause for concern. While it was originally coined to represent the trend of shoppers entering brick-and-mortar stores to try out products and become more familiar with their look and feel before ultimately purchasing the product online, that’s no longer the case. Unfortunately for retailers and brands, the stigma remains, but it’s important to evolve and keep pace with the rapidly evolving customer journey.

Give Showrooming a Chance
Retailers' hesitance to embrace showrooming is understandable, but reassurance comes with some additional direction. According to Forrester, 91% of shoppers report that they research a product online while at home, and this number only continues to grow. With such a large volume of consumers conducting research before purchase, it’s inevitable that business strategies transform to better align.

Knowing that today’s consumers are inquisitive and searching for the best quality for their money, it’s essential that retail brands differentiate themselves from resellers who are likely to offer products at a discounted price. They can achieve this by providing a superior brand experience and demonstrating a holistic understanding of the needs and desire of their customers.

By guiding the customer journey with meaningful touch points, shoppers are incentivized to complete their purchase through the company instead of looking for alternate channels – this could be through promotions, loyalty programs, in-store offerings and personal relationships.

For example, if a customer recently went to Ulta Beauty and bought a sensitive skin cleanser, Ulta could take that touch point to recommend other products that would help complement the beauty regimen for someone with this type of skin type. Beyond that, an Ulta representative could walk through usage techniques and provide recommendations on how to best take advantage of the product.

Brands that are ready to embrace showrooming should consider taking the following steps:

Merge Digital and Physical Experiences:  By making the in-store experiences interactive, shoppers can have fun while learning about products that best suit them. Technology today can help shoppers narrow down their needs to determine which products will best suit them. Then, data pulled from these interactions can guide future interactions.

Offer Informative, Helpful and Kind Associates: By shifting the storefront from a place where money is exchanged to more of a knowledge center, consumers will feel comfortable interacting with salespeople, learning about products and making educated decisions. Taking the pressure off the situation, store associates will be more apt to provide kind and helpful guidance without concern that they’re wasting time on a dead-end sale.

The Apple Store is perhaps the most well known example of this, and we’ve seen other technology brands mimic its success. Apple enables shoppers to touch and interact both with the technology and the staff “geniuses” who know the ins and outs of the product suite.

Use Technology to Streamline Interactions: By leveraging technology as a foundation for in- store interactions, sales associates will be equipped with the information required to respond to customer needs immediately. Through efficient inventory management, stores can eliminate the time-consuming process of checking stockrooms for merchandise and provide answers on-demand.

It’s considerably easier to work with a consumer trend than against one. By shifting strategy to focus on the overall customer journey, consumers are more apt to have a pleasant brand experience. Taking the pressure off retail associates to earn commissions and instead turning them into "customer journey guides" ensures that stores become a place that consumers want to visit.