Daily Dose of iQ: How Big a Deal is Showrooming, Anyway?

Jun 13, 2012 — Allan Pulga

Yesterday, Ashley Lutz of Business Insider reported that brick-and-mortar retailers' fears over showrooming are blown way out of proportion, citing new research from Forrester (see above graph).

Online sales are not expected to drastically carve into overall in-store sales after all.

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru suggests what many of us have suspected: In spite of finding an item for a lower price online, many shoppers will still pay bit more in-store "because of the immediate availability of products, service levels associated with buying in stores, or because of the fact that the products online do not have significant benefit over those in stores," she wrote.

"As long as pricing is generally comparable across channels, consumers are unlikely to switch to antoher retailer or channel."

This is good news for brick-and-mortar retailers, but as we've recommended in the past (see Best Buy Embraces Showrooming), you still need to offer a good in-store experience to convert that walk-in traffic.

Lowe's acknowledges showrooming and vows to do one better.

"May the best experience win," wrote Steve Smith of MediaPost.com last week (June 7). "As retailers evolve their strategies for handling the super-informed, smartphone-wielding consumer, the best defense is a good offense."

Lowe's, for example, has released a new version of its iPhone app, with added "MyLowe's" loyalty card integration, saved details about the user's home, and their purchase history.

Not only that, but the company has rolled out Wi-Fi in all its stores to encourage in-store smartphone use. It also issued 42,000 iPhones to in-store staff, equipped with an app that complements the consumer app: "The associates’ app drills a little deeper into inventory for their own store and nearby stores," Smith writes. "The app-bearing customer finds that the data embedded or put into the app is of real value here."

Lowe's demonstrates that showrooming is not the enemy, but rather a practice it can use to its own in-store advantage.

"The In-Store Experience Matters Now More Than Ever"

William L. McComb, CEO of Fifth & Pacific Companies, wrote an article for Forbes on Monday (June 11), outlining five factors needed in delivering successful in-store experiences in today's market:

  1. Community, Both Online and Off
  2. Marriage with Mobile
  3. Store as the Ultimate Ad
  4. Knowledge Sharing
  5. Design + Visual Power

McComb's list is quite similar to the list our creative director Alen Puaca put together in the last article of his 5-part series on Next-Gen Retail Places (March 6):

  1. Relationship
  2. Checkout Anywhere
  3. In-Store Edutainment
  4. Online In-Store
  5. Social Hub

Topics: Retail Operations, Wireless Trends, Mobile Industry, Customer Experience, e-Commerce

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