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A new approach in showrooms

In summer I wrote an article for the blog about retailers reluctance to embrace showrooming, however, it would appear that six months on attitudes are changing…





In the past retailers have seen online and mobile shopping (or to use the infamous new buzz word ‘m-commerce’) as a threat to their business because of showrooming; the practice of browsing products in brick and mortar shops then purchasing them later online for a lower price. Initially, this sparked panic amongst retailers fearing that this would be the end of the traditional high street, however, it would appear that attitudes are now changing.

The rise of smartphones however has added a new and potentially more damaging dimension to showrooming as it has allowed shoppers to showroom whilst still inside a shop, rather than waiting until they get home to their desktops. Surprisingly however, some shops are now readily accepting that mobile shopping is becoming popular and are welcoming shoppers into their stores, smartphone in hand, to browse their products. To put some statistics to this trend; a recent study carried out by BuyDesire, in conjunction with Econsultancy, showed that interestingly whilst two-thirds of retail respondents (67%) acknowledge an increased use of smartphones in-store, only 11% see mobile- based showrooming as a threat to revenue.

Now, you might be wondering why on earth these retailers are welcoming this trend… surely it can only lead to a drop in sales? However these retailers are smart retailers; they have put price matching strategies in place that guarantee lowest prices in order to turn browsers into purchasers. These retailers who are leading the way into a new era of showrooming have invested in high-quality mobile sites, apps and in-store wifi in order to provide the ultimate shopping experience to their smartphone-wielding customers. Their strategy is to encourage shoppers to scope out their options but to ensure that those options are not better than the ones they are providing in-store. It’s a risk, but it’s a well-calculated risk.

A recent article by the Internet Retailer reports on one retailer who is really embracing this change in attitude and actually using it to turn its business around. US electronics giant Best Buy has suffered huge losses since showrooming began; their shops have essentially become huge showrooms for consumers who try out their goods and then go home and order them on Amazon. Now, however Best Buy is trying to reverse this by providing employees with new training and mobile technology to better serve customers and to allow them to offer shoppers a ‘best price’ guarantee; whether they are shopping in-store or online. The move from Best Buy comes after the chains decision to focus strongly on eCommerce amid predictions that annual online sales will reach $4 billion in 2016.

So as we approach the Christmas period expect to see shoppers chained to their smartphones multi-tasking in a way you’ve never seen. And no, for once they’re not updating their location on foursquare they’re scouring the internet for the ecommere sites or the nearest shop with the best possible price. The era of ‘m-commerce’ is upon us! So Etailers are you confident you are still offering the lowest price around? And my question to you, Bricks and Mortar retailers is, do you accept their challenge??

Happy Christmas trading retailers!