Showrooming – death or salvation for bricks and mortar retailers?

One of 43. million people

One of 43.4 million people by 2017

In the rush to condemn shoppers having the temerity to use their smartphones in stores commentators have forgotten one basic fact.

By 2017 Statista estimate that 43.4 million people will have a smartphone in the UK

That means the vast majority of people walking through the door will have one in their pocket or bag. Looking to the future, around half of smartphone users plan to increase their range of activity. Meanwhile only 10% plan a decrease of any kind. Leading to store owners seeing many more people face to screen down their aisles. Research carried out by RVS in conjunction with ResearchBods shows that those people who are showrooming tend to make a buying decision in the first stores they get to. In fact out of 1000 people, only 34% said they would buy an alternative product online or in another store – or not buy at all. Showroomers are, therefore, exactly the kind of people you want in your store; They have committed to spend time on a purchase They are committed to a purchase mission (in fact they report only 12% of the time they go home without buying) They have not bought YET since if they had, they would not be there They are active and knowledgeable.

Overall being in a store to showroom was expected to lead to a purchase in that store 56% of the time, while the buy elsewhere option was only recorded 22% of the time. Being a second choice store definitely has its drawbacks.

The question, then for retailers is, as there are going to be so many, and so important, how can you make sure you are the first store they visit – and then the one they buy at.

Perhaps the first things a retailer can do is to

  1. Be Showrooming friendly – WiFi has no real cost, but a good signal saves the phone charges, and will help to persuade people to stay, and not go.
  2. Offer incentives for people to buy from your range there and then. One obvious one, and top of the list in research is to offer free home delivery if they buy a product to be home delivered from within your stores. Given that 61% of people quoted lack of availability in a store as a reason for not buying it is easy to see there is a mutual benefit here – you can manage your stock better, and they get what they want more often in your store.

To offset people shopping from home, you can count on 6 million people by 2017 in the UK to be heavy smartphone-in-store users, or use quite often for showrooming. This sector represents people willing to travel to your store to try and, potentially, buy. As such they are people you would want to encourage to offset those people quite happy to sit at home and order from cloud destinations. You would want to encourage them back again, to the extent of offering these people direct incentive not available to your normal on-line shoppers. The kind of incentive they look for will vary – but you would want to give some consideration to non-price alternatives such as coffee, or a free magazine of their choice to bring them back on a monthly basis. RVS publish a list of the importance of incentives in general, although this does vary dramatically for different socio-economic types (see tables) Price is clearly important – but getting alternative pricing that counts against you does not necessarily mean that they will leave.  Bricks and Mortar shoppers value the experience of being in your store – or at least they ought to. The key reasons they give for buying in a particular store is headed by the store environment, and the quality of your staff in delivering re-assurance on the day – and in the event of a post-purchase issue. Interestingly, the drivers for showrooming are exactly those for loyalty in our first white paper – staff attitude and store trust. Product availability, the second important loyalty measure crops up as a key reason for leaving, as opposed to one for staying. Showrooming represents yet one more sales opportunity – but only for retailers who are first choice. The age of all day shopping around in person, in a variety of stores is coming to an end. In it’s place is people shopping for the experience, but expanding their choices as they are doing so. Retailers not heading the shopping list are not in it.

Showroomers Download white paper here