A war against showrooming is waging in local businesses across the U.S. every single day — and with good reason. According to Smart Retailer, 40–50% of American adults have admitted to showrooming when deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
Not sure what showrooming is? It’s the “practice of consumers coming into your store to look at merchandise in person and then going online to purchase the exact same product from somewhere else at a cheaper price,” says Smart Retailer.
Moral of the story? Showrooming can be very bad for sales. But the good news is that there are ways you can combat this issue to ensure your business stays profitable. So strap on your boots, comrade, and get ready, because we’re about to give you five ways you can start fighting showrooming today!
Give the People What They Want
One of the very best ways to combat showrooming, says TJ McCue, a contributor for Forbes, is by giving people what they want… your best price. TJ explains, “If consumers know that they’re getting the retailer’s best price in the store, it’s far easier to complete the transaction immediately – instead of shoppers going home to research prices or look for better promotions on the retailer’s e-commerce site.”
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A great rate, combined with consistent in-store sales and promotions, is a surefire way to fight showrooming. When your local business becomes known for always having competitive prices, your customers will start feeling confident that they don’t have to check every online retailer first before purchasing from you.
Bonus: Here’s a great article on how you can amp up your in-store marketing strategy, courtesy of All Business.
Take Your Store Online
Having an e-commerce website is an essential weapon in the war against showrooming. Allowing your customers to buy your products online provides them with a level of convenience that they may feel they just can’t get from a brick-and-mortar location.
E-commerce is the future of sales, says Lauren Hockensen for Mashable. “Smaller stores can benefit from the draw an online storefront can give them. That’s because more people are shopping online than ever before — and that number is only getting bigger. In fact, online sales are expected to reach a staggering $317 billion by 2016 in the U.S.”
Bonus: Scott’s Marketplace, soon to launch in spring 2013, will offer local businesses the chance to have a professional e-commerce website for a low monthly fee. Even better? The first 500 local businesses who join will pay no transaction fees for one year! Get on our launch list so you can be among the first to benefit.
Provide a Pickup Option
If you don’t currently offer in-store pickup, you may want to think about adding that feature into your sales plan. How it works is simple: Customers use your e-commerce website to order your products and during checkout they’re given the option of ‘in-store pickup.’ By selecting this option, you’re allowing them to sidestep the shipping charge and pick up directly from your store.
David Katz, president of Dynamic Digital Advertising, agrees: “One of the simplest ways to drive online business to such stores is to offer scheduled, in-store pickup, which not only saves the customer time but also helps retailers manage their sales force for the most effective utilization of their labor.”
Bonus: Check out a great infographic, posted by Visual.ly, on the benefits of offering in-store pickup.
Fight Fire with Fire
Many local business owners think that by not offering in-store internet access they’ll block showrooming attempts — and score more sales for themselves. However, this tactic can often work against you, warns Scott Curry, founder and CEO of Scott’s Marketplace.
He stresses, “Don’t give your customers a reason to leave your store. Instead, be as transparent and accessible as possible by offering free Wi-Fi so your customers can compare prices right then and there if they want to. Even by offering internet access, if your pricing is competitive and you’re offering a great product, you’ll be much more likely to get the sale.”
You can also try a deflecting tactic that will hopefully encourage your customers to utilize your Wi-Fi in a different way. Consider placing QR codes around your store that, once scanned, link to a landing page that provides an exclusive discount only available in-store. This type of instant gratification may be enough to drive your customers to make the purchase.
Bonus: Check out these stats from eMarketer that detail how consumers are using mobile while in stores.
Offer Killer Customer Service
When every sale matters (and even when it doesn’t) offering excellent customer service should be a no-brainer. Make sure there’s always a knowledgeable team member around to answer questions, provide help when needed, and make the customer feel like their business is genuinely appreciated. Plus, when you make a personal connection with a customer, they’re much more like to make a purchase in your store rather than going somewhere else.
Scott notes, “How can your local business compete with those who’re offering rock-bottom prices you just can’t afford to match? Customer service. It’s not just about the price you offer, it’s about the whole experience. Of course, you need to be as competitive in the marketplace as possible, but outstanding customer service is essential.”
For example, you might to decide to offer free shipping or provide a really great warranty consumers won’t find elsewhere. Or, perhaps you offer price matching, a great form of customer service that can effectively fight showrooming. If your customer knows upfront that they can come back within (X) number of days to receive the difference (if they were to find the same product cheaper elsewhere), they’ll feel confident about making the purchase right there and then.
Bonus: Take a look at this great article by Entrepreneur.com for ways you can go above and beyond with customer service.