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Sales Associates Are the Key to Combating Showrooming

Sales Management

Sales Associates Are the Key to Combating Showrooming image iStock 000025314455Medium 300x228Let me begin by stating that the act of showrooming is not a new concept – it has just evolved. Gone are the days when consumers would sit at the table and take retailer X’s flyer and retailer Y’s flyer and compare who is selling the item for a cheaper price (unless you are my mom – who still does this even though she is an iPhone 5 owner). The evolution of showrooming, via a mobile device or tablet while in store, is a quickly rising trend in retail effecting over $200 Billion in-stores sales last year. However, retailers need not fear the mobile phone and product/price comparisons as in-store conversion is still possible. Price will always be a deciding factor for consumers, but a few dollars doesn’t hold as much purchase power as providing an overall positive customer experience – as they say, cheaper is not always better.

A Kellogg School of Management survey found that 59% of shoppers said they received poor or average service in the stores they had recently shopped. And, among shoppers who said they engaged in showrooming, 40% reported that they actually never intended to buy online, but were driven to another store or online after experiencing poor customer service and support in stores.

According to the Google Shopper Marketing Council report from this spring:

  • 1 in 3 shoppers use their smartphones to find information instead of asking store employees.
  • Over half of those surveyed also said the average time they used their phones in-store is 15 minutes.
  • Top categories for mobile self-help are appliances, electronics, baby care, and household care.

To increase the overall customer experience, retailers should encourage store associates to take the role not just as customer service but as brand, campaign, and information ambassadors. It is highly important to train associates to look for the signs of showrooming and intervene as quickly as possible. Associates can point showroomers to in-store signage with text or QR codes to websites that provide positive online reviews or side-by-side product comparisons, which ultimately may provide them with the research they are looking for on their mobile phone. Price matching is the biggest tool you can give to employees. If that is not a viable financial option, you can also empower and incent them to promote your loyalty program or additional offers like free delivery or warrantees. One simple interaction may save not only today’s sale but future purchases.

Learn additional keys to combatting showrooming with me on our September 12 webinar, 5 Ways Retailers Can Beat Showrooming or download the white paper Combat Showrooming: How Retailers Can Use Mobile to Enhance the Shopper Experience today.

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