Over 60 percent of shoppers — roughly two out of every three — use their smartphones during their stop at the store. What began as an innocent multimedia experience has snowballed over the years into a transformed retail environment — one that’s turned shopping from retail therapy to e-therapy.
Sales staff to store owners alike wonder: What can we do to reclaim the in-store shopping experience and convert showroomers, and their mobile methods, into engaged customers? It turns out the same showrooming trend causing this quandary is also the solution.
What Is Retail Showrooming?
Showrooming refers to a common behavior today where a consumer will visit a retail store to compare the online price of a desired good with its in-store price. After making the retail environment comparison, the showroomer then proceeds to purchase the merchandise online, often from a competitor.
It is not difficult for sales staff to notice potential showrooming consumers. They’ll likely be evaluating a product or good for a significant length of time while reading their phone. When this happens, there’s a good chance the customer is using your physical inventory to sway their shopping purchase toward an e-tailer’s lower sticker price.
For this reason — and more — many retail managers and marketing personnel have come to see showrooming as a bane, not a boon, to their business. In the ever-evolving landscape of consumer tastes and preferences, is there a better way to reframe showrooming?
Why Retailers Have Tried to Minimize Showroomers in the Past
Over the past decade, reducing showrooming has been a challenge for many conventional stores, mainly because:
1. It Slows In-Store Retail Sales
E-commerce sales reached $517 billion in 2018, up 15 percent from the previous year. These figures represent the overall momentum behind online shopping, which — in fewer than 10 years — has almost tripled its slice of total retail purchases, from 5.1 percent in 2007 to 14.3 percent in 2018.
Showrooming has affected some companies more than others. Consumer electronics store Best Buy revamped its brick-and-mortar stores when it saw significantly sliding sales lingering into the late 2000s. Best Buy now employs mini “stores-within-the-store,” with dedicated areas for specific electronic brands and experts stationed within, showcasing products and facilitating conversations with patrons.
2. It Diminishes the Retail Environment
Nearly 84 percent of customers admitted to showrooming, with over half reporting they wanted to see a product in person before buying. Many retail stores say this behavior reduces their role within the buying journey, relegating them to the margins of the consideration and decision phases.
3. It Makes Sales Staff Feel Irrelevant
Showrooming mitigates, if not eliminates, the impact and reputation of a store’s customer service. Interesting enough, many e-commerce brands — particularly in the apparel industry — have sought to built stronger brand loyalty and create more immersive customer experiences by deploying pop-up stores. Pop-ups by their nature mimic the personalized attention of retail customer service, proving human-to-human interaction still has a valuable role in today’s retail world.
How to Convert Retail Showrooming Customers Into Increased Retail Sales
Showrooming has traditionally been the nemesis of traditional, physical retailers. Those big, bad online retailers are huffing and puffing profits away, with undercut prices and the camouflage of convenience that comes with online shopping and delivery.
This attitude is not only cynical, it’s self-defeating. Retailers and their sales staff must leverage inevitable showrooming as a place to identify genuine sales opportunities, using best practices to increase retail conversion rates. Showrooming allows retailers to make foot traffic the foundation of performance analysis, answering once and for all how many opportunities you had to make a sale — then sharpening those opportunities tomorrow.
- Educate your sales staff: Change the conversation within your store’s walls. Use Best Buy’s dedicated product experts as an example of how to rearrange and engage customers, so they get authentic retail customer experience with in-depth product interactions.
- Make it personalized: Research shows over a third of shoppers have interest in personalized or tailored products. Mass customization of product aesthetics, features and content can be an in-store-only option to entice showroomers.
- Humanize the trip: Stores can combine sensory experiences, personalized product offerings, expert sales staff and omnichannel assisted selling tools to create a maximum-engagement, fully humanized shopping experience customers can’t get online.
- Price-match the extra mile: Major retailers — from Walmart and Target to Lowe’s and Nordstrom — offer generous in-store price matching policies to combat showrooming.
Continue reading for more in-depth explanations on these conversion strategies to reverse showrooming and reinvigorate the retail customer experience.
Benefits of Showrooming Visitors
Rather than staying stubborn in their approach to showrooming, retailers can embrace the foot traffic-based engagement and conversion opportunities the trend affords.
1. They Give You Insights Into Hot Products
What merchandise or sections of the store receive the most showroomers? If the aim is to increase retail conversion rates, sales staff and management must first understand where browsers are heading, then tailor in-store incentives accordingly. Think digital signage promoting user-generated content, advertising keen cross-sell recommendations or displaying product-specific QR codes showroomers can scan to see product information and ratings instantly.
2. They Signal Buyers Already in the Decision Phase
While showrooming initially seems to lessen the impact of the store environment and sales staff on purchase conversions, it does indicate buyers who have moved beyond simple browsing and into actionable decision-making. When customers arrive already primed for a specific product or vendor you carry, you have the persuasive leg up. They’ve already indicated interest. All you need to do is seal the deal.
3. They Create More Personalized Consumer Touchpoints
Personalizing your customer touchpoints reframes interactions to center real people. Just remember: More often than not, these touchpoints are marathons, not sprints. Showroomers want in-depth product expertise, trustworthy customer reviews, physical product interaction, omnichannel affordances and authentic customer service. Only in-store shopping delivers all that.
4. They Generate Word-of-Mouth Advertising
Showroomers converted into in-store customers are a vital word-of-mouth evangelist — notably when they experience a price-matching strategy or unexpected discount. It’s hard to tell what people like more: getting something on sale or telling people they got something on sale.
Strategies to Convert Showroom Visitors Into Buyers
There are numerous retail conversion ideas stores can use to increase their in-store purchase rates, strategies revitalizing sales staff interactions, boosting in-store technology and matching contemporary consumer tastes.
1. Implement a Retail Price-Matching Strategy
If a customer shows a reputable online competitor selling an identical product at a lower price, offer to meet that price. Price matching isn’t bowing down to e-commerce. After all, 75 percent of revenue per sale is better than no sale at all, especially when a patron has taken up employees’ time. Plus, some of the largest and most successful retailers have spearheaded the price-matching strategies you can employ today alongside other price-based incentives.
- Consider additional in-store value add-ons to entice further cross- or upsells, such as extra loyalty rewards.
- Use in-store mobile marketing that sends coupons or deals to customers as soon as they enter the store, but only during that visit.
- Administer consistent price controls, so regardless of the channel where the customer makes their purchase, the price is the same. Apple, for example, is well-known for pioneering omnichannel identical prices for products sold in its flagship stores, on its website and at other mass retailers.
2. Highlight the Benefits of a Physical Shopping Experience
The retail environment holds strengths and capabilities online shopping can’t match.
- Sensory story: Think the signature smell of Abercrombie and Fitch stores and the hands-on journey of creating a Build-a-Bear. Sensory experiences trigger greater brand recall and can even imbue a sense of ownership between the consumer and merchandise before they buy.
- Sales staff expertise: Knowledgeable, friendly staff there to answer questions, check stock, describe warranties or perform product demos are invaluable to the customer journey.
- User-generated content: Digital signage and in-store kiosks can display interactive or user-generated content, like Instagram pictures of customers with your products using a branded hashtag, Pinterest feeds of stylized merchandise or actual product reviews from your website.
3. Explain Further Time and Cost Savings
Use in-store signage to promote your price-matching policy and sales associates to further engage customers on the advantages of buying now.
- Instant access: No waiting on delivery — the customer gets the online price and receives the desired item in one swoop.
- Avoid shipping and return fees: Many e-commerce sites sneak these in at the end of the shopping cart journey — or make you buy more items to avoid it altogether.
- Hassle-free returns: Everyone has a horror story of trying to send an item they bought online back to the e-retailer. With in-store purchases, return headaches go out the window with clear and intuitive return policies.
- Security: Who cares about free shipping if someone steals your package off your front porch? The “conveniences” of e-commerce purchases disappear when a customer must make special arrangements at home or work to safely receive a package, or even worse, file tedious claims if the product gets stolen, broken or wrongly delivered.
4. Make the Phone Your Friend
Over 50 percent of consumers say they seek sales staff holding tablets or similar technology when shopping in a store. Why? In-store omnichannel technology gives both the employee and the consumer instant access to the very things showroomers are evaluating. Sales staff using devices can:
- Compare prices, proving price neutrality or offering informed, on-the-spot price matching
- Estimate shipping costs, showing customers what they save if they buy in-store
- Together review actual customer reviews
- Make product referrals
- Add customers to loyalty programs or redeem loyalty points
- Create customer wish lists
- Detail product customizations and features, using multimedia as an additional resource
For example, beauty retailer Sephora harnesses smartphone technology by setting up QR and barcodes around in-store displays. Store patrons can scan those codes to read product reviews, earn loyalty points or receive store coupons.
5. Offer Retail Price Matching on Your Website
Price-matching consistency is especially crucial for multi-location retailers who get sales and promotions from corporate headquarters, not from in-store managers or associates ideating them.
Train sales associates to identify engaged but on-the-fence customers. If a patron is hesitating based fundamentally on price, ensure your team launches into its price-matching guarantee available both online and in the store. Have the sales rep pull up customer reviews submitted on your website to seal the deal.
6. Be Polite and Engaging
Warm, knowledgeable customer service is more valuable than ever to increase retail sales. As the saying goes, one pleasant visit may not turn a shopper into a lifelong customer — but one bad visit will create a lifelong critic.
Friendly sales associates can spur meaningful, authentic conversations with showroomers in many ways:
- Recounting personal stories about their usage or experience with a product
- Narrating a product’s features with its benefits so consumers can understand what it will do for their quality of life
- Performing live demonstrations or troubleshoot product issues in real time
- Letting customers physically engage with a product before purchasing
- Asking appropriate questions about a customer’s lifestyle or pain points, then offering non-salesy suggestions on in-store products that fit their situation
- Highlighting in-store technology and interactive kiosks where customers can look up further information or engage in self-service tasks
7. Speak Their Language
At their core, showroomers derive strong motivation from beating the system. They want to feel like experts who understand loopholes and cost savings. Their ultimate reward may not even be the product or products they just bought, but the satisfaction in how they bought it.
It’s a powerful emotion, one brick-and-mortar stores can harness to increase traffic, engagement and sales. Use showrooming opportunities as a chance to relay the “insider” perks of being your customer, from price matching to store loyalty rewards, store credits, exclusive sales and promotions, other vendor partnerships and more. One of the most valuable tips to increase retail sales is to speak the “hack the system” language of the showroomer, thereby increasing your conversion rate.
How People-Counting Systems Can Improve the Retail Environment
People-counting systems are pieces of hardware and software that sync up to count foot traffic in a particular area. They introduce one of today’s most powerful tools to strategize retail conversion ideas, reverse showrooming and see greater in-store sales.
- Track visitors by period: People-counting systems give you unparalleled resources into in-store traffic segmentation. You can track consumers by quarter, month, week, day — even by the hour — turning those metrics into savvy business intelligence reports for stakeholders.
- Calculate visitors by department or product: Similiar to tracking overall visitors by period, you can follow consumers in individual departments or store areas. That strategy reveals real, data-backed solutions for which goods get the most in-store attention — and help you try to figure out why.
- Deduce successful promotions: You and your sales team can review people-counting systems alongside other marketing and sales KPIs, connecting the dots between what products or services you’re currently promoting and the amount of in-store foot traffic those campaigns generate.
- Better allocate sales staff schedules and talent: People-counting systems let you aggregate visitor reports and employee footfall data with greater breadth and accuracy. With peak and low store traffic insights, you can better schedule your sales staff during your busiest hours, maximizing labor costs and ensuring no one is wasting time.
- Inform better price-matching campaigns and sales: Store areas with high traffic counts, yet few actual sales, indicate a missed conversion opportunity. To remedy this, try an experiment: Place signs stating price-matching and special in-store sales for products in those high-traffic areas. Then, track the sales spikes for those products — spikes you would have missed if not for your people-counting system.
- Determine your retail conversion rate: Do you know the percentage of visitors to your brick-and-mortar store that result in a purchase? Is there data tracking these ratios and informing better conversions? A people-counting system is a foundational tool to make these calculations in today’s retail world.
Count on Traf-Sys for Your People-Counting System Solution
Interested in reversing showrooming to work in your store’s favor — and seeing retail conversion rates boost as a result? Traf-Sys can help.
Our state-of-the-art people-counting systems combine hard data with actionable ideas that make foot traffic the basis for your store’s business decisions.
Contact a representative to get started on a free, no-obligation counting system quote for your retail store.