Showrooming: the practice of visiting a shop or shops in order to examine a product before buying it online at a lower price.

– Oxford Dictionary

Showrooming is not a new phenomenon, it’s been a hot topic amongst retailers for years. Driven by our desire to touch and see items in real life before committing to buying them, it’s an essential part of the customer buying journey – especially when it comes to high-ticket items. So why do so few retailers have a solid strategy in place to convert showroomers into shoppers? With increasingly regular news articles about the death of the high street and the rising cost of running bricks-and-mortar stores, isn’t it time that retailers upped their game and stopped running showrooms for their competitors?

A recent Salesforce study found that 71% of shoppers use their mobile while in-store. What’s more, 36% of these shoppers use their phones to compare prices. This means that potential customers are likely to be looking at your competitor’s website(s) while in your store.

So how can store owners better meet the needs of today’s mobile-assisted visitors? Here are 7 ways to turn showroomers into shoppers.

1. Give shoppers easy access to product information

 

Offer Free WiFi: It may seem counterintuitive but offering complimentary WiFi in your store can actually help with conversions. Not all potential customers who use their mobiles in-store are looking for the cheapest deal. Many will want to read customer reviews or find out about how the product works to make sure that it meets their requirements. If they can’t get any reception or WiFi, they may feel as though they don’t have all the information needed to make their buying decision. If they need to leave the store to complete further research online, there’s a chance that they may not return.

Provide Detailed Signage: For high ticket and bestselling items, make sure that you’re displaying detailed signage. Many shoppers will use their mobiles to check things like dimensions, assembly instructions and available colours. Save them a job by providing key information alongside product displays e.g. if you’re selling suitcases, provide shoppers with baggage restrictions for the most popular airlines so they don’t need to search for them online.

Invest In Employee Training: Make sure that all shop floor staff are passionate and knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. Hold regular training sessions for staff. Provide product demonstrations where applicable, and explain the features and benefits of using/ owning the product. Make sure that they know who the product is and isn’t suitable for, which other products complement it, and what previous customers have thought of the product.

Use Mobile To Your Advantage: No matter how knowledgeable your staff, some customers may just want to complete their own research. To prevent customers from visiting competitors’ sites, provide easy access to product information on your own site. One way of doing this might be to display QR codes linking to your own product detail pages on shelf edges or swing tickets. Make sure that your website is optimised for mobile, that your product pages are detailed and that they are displaying customer reviews.

2. Be competitive on price

Price Match: As mentioned, many shoppers are going online to compare prices so give them an offer they can’t refuse – offer to price match. This way they will know they are getting the best deal out there but you won’t be devaluing your brand.

Use SMS: Not only do shoppers go online to check out competitors prices, they also check if they’ve got any offers and promotions. Before they get the chance to do this, use beacons to send out special offers to customers when they enter the store. When they pull out their phone, they’ll see the offer from you and may be less likely to go online to check if there are other offers out there.

Payment plans: Although finance and payment plans don’t reduce the end cost to the customer, they do often make high ticket products more affordable.

Prevent shoppers from completing their research and running by giving them a reason to make their purchase there and then.

3. Create a sense of urgency

 Time-sensitive offers: Prevent shoppers from completing their research and running by giving them a reason to make their purchase there and then. This could be as simple as offering time-sensitive special offers that are only available in-store or running double loyalty points days.

 Remove any fear of commitment: Offer a deposit scheme so that customers don’t feel as though they’ve been rushed into a decision but can still take advantage of special prices. Making shoppers aware of your returns policy will also take away their fear of commitment.

Don’t make customers wait: In busy periods, provide sales assistants with iPads so that they can take payments from the shop floor – this will prevent shoppers from changing their mind as they’re queuing at the till.

4. Be the most convenient option

Home delivery: Many shoppers will choose to browse in-store but buy online so that they can get products delivered to their home address. If you sell large or heavy items make sure that you’re offering home delivery if a customer wants to make their purchase in-store.

Payment options: Give customers as much choice as possible when it comes to payments. Allow customers to apply for finance in-store and give them the option to pay with alternative payment methods such as bank transfers, e-vouchers and contactless mobile payments.

Out of stock items: Offer to transfer out-of-stock or custom made items in to store or have them delivered to the customer’s home address.

In-store kiosks: To prevent customers from becoming frustrated by having to wait in long queues at the till provide in-store kiosks that allow customers to place home delivery orders themselves.

Speak to brands about whether there is a possibility for you to collaborate on an exclusive line of products that no other retailers will stock.

5. Have an exclusive offering

Exclusive products and free gifts: For competitive ranges, make sure that you are offering something that no other retailer can.

Speak to brands about whether there is a possibility for you to collaborate on an exclusive line of products that no other retailers will stock.

Request samples that you can give out as free gifts when a customer makes a high-value purchase. For example, Clinique and other beauty brands, provide department stores with sample sets that they can give out to customers with the purchase of 2 or more items. This works for the store as it gives the customer a reason to buy from them over their competitors. It works for the brand as the customer will try out new products which hopefully they will go on to purchase in the future.

6. Go the extra mile

 

Demos: Shopping in-store should be a memorable experience – you should aim to add value that an online store can’t. If you sell beauty products, offer to give your customers a complimentary makeover where you can demonstrate how to use the products you are selling. If you sell cooking equipment, have sales assistants cook up tasty samples while shoppers watch.

Style advice: If your products have aesthetic value, offer shoppers complimentary style advice. For example, if you sell homeware, train your staff up as interior design experts so that they can help customers to select which colour scheme to go for.

Many clothing stores, such as The Dressing Room, offer a personal shopping service where an experienced style advisor will help customers to find clothing and accessories for a specific occasion. This not only makes the customer feel confident with the purchase but it adds unique and personalised value that they won’t be able to get online.

Workshops & training: If you sell products such as mobile phones or laptops, offer in-store workshops or training sessions to help your customers get the most out of their purchase.

Home installation: Offering to set up the customers purchase in their own home could be a real selling point for some customers. For example, when John Lewis sell a washing machine, they offer to disconnect and dispose of the old one. Then connect, test and demo the new machine. If you’re able to offer anything similar for your product ranges, make sure that your sales staff are letting every customer know.

7. Make sure you have the stock

Another common reason why shoppers use their mobiles in-store is to find a product when their size or colour preference isn’t available on the shelf. As some shoppers might not want or have the time to ask an assistant to check the stock room, make sure that you’re regularly printing off lists of sold items to replenish the shop floor.

For bestselling items, make sure that you always have a minimum level of stock available in store. Venditan Commerce has an automatic internal shipping request function that will alert the warehouse to transfer stock to a branch if stock for an item falls below a predetermined minimum level.

Once you’ve converted your in-store customers, don’t forget to collect their email address at the till so that you are able to create a full picture of your customer’s behaviour and preferences across all channels.

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Stephanie Fenton
7th November 2019

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