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Could “Showrooming” Destroy Your Business?

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It’s been happening since we could get Internet on our phones, and with the advent of 4G, it’s only become more prevalent.

If you’ve got no idea what I’m talking about, then give me a second, and I’ll explain:

Showrooming is the process of using a retail outlet as a ‘showroom’ to investigate and discover the product you want to purchase, before heading online to buy it at a cheaper price.

And it happens every day.

 So if you sell something physical, and you’ve got a physical premises, you need to be aware of it, and you need to do something about it.

If you don’t, then things don’t look good for the future of your business.

I don’t say this to scare you, but to illustrate the seriousness of the situation, and the important thing to note is that if you take action, and actually take steps to address that showrooming happens, you could actually end up in a stronger position than you are right now.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d cover some of the key things to consider and some of the actions you can take to reduce the negative impact that the activity has on you and your business.

But first, I want to get something out of the way, something that you need to expect if you’re able to deal with the challenge:

Showrooming Doesn’t Have To Result In The

Prospect Buying From Somewhere Else.

Just because a prospect is researching a product online whilst they’re in your premises, it doesn’t mean that they definitely won’t purchase it from you.

We have a tendency to be opposed to practices that appear to threaten the way that we do things, and it’s easy for retailers to think ill of showrooming and conclude that it simply can’t work in conjunction with offline retail.

But if you do take this stance, I’ve got some news for you: you’re going to lose.  Showrooming isn’t going away, so the sooner you realise it and decide to work withit rather than againstit, the better.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s consider some of the reasons why someone might browse in your premises and then purchase a product from an online retailer:

  1. The product is cheaper online
  2. The product is delivered for free if ordered online
  3. The product is out of stock in the store, or they’d have to wait for it
  4. They get rewarded for it if they buy it online (i.e. affiliate stores like TopCashback etc)
  5. They don’t want to carry the product around with them
  6. The return policies are better online
  7. They trust the online retailer more


Straight away we can see that there are genuinely good reasons for buying online, and when you combine that with the ability to handle a product for free in a retail outlet, it’s no wonder that showrooming happens.

So what can we do about it? Well, here are a few suggestions:

Offer Home Delivery

We’re all so used to Amazon Prime now that we expect things to be delivered to our home or workplace within 24 hours.  And just because you’re not Amazon, it doesn’t mean you’re not judged by the same standards.  Offering free home delivery on an in-store product purchase, can help reduce the amount of people who buy online to get free home delivery.

(This also takes care of the ‘I don’t want to carry this around with me’ objection.)

Provide Free WiFi

You’re never going to stop showrooming, so why not controlit instead?

Provide free WiFi in your store, and be sure to capture the data of everyone who logs on. That way, even if you don’t get the first purchase, you’ve got the ability to remarket to them in the future. Or – even better – give them a discount code when they sign into the WiFi that makes an instant purchase more attractive.

Think Carefully About Your Pricing

One of the things that the Internet age has done is revolutionised pricing.  All of a sudden, there are retailers with very low overheads who can afford to sell the same product for much less than the offline retailers.

How you adapt to this changing landscape determines your success.  Are you being realistic with your pricing?  What would have to happen for you to price more competitively?  Thinking these things through then acting on your thoughts is a worthwhile exercise.

Price Match?

Now, this isn’t always possible, but one way to reduce the number of people who ‘shop’ in your store and then order online is to price match.  John Lewis do this very successfully, with lots of people preferring to shop in store, knowing that they can get the same product for the cheapest price with John Lewis-level service.

Provide Incentive To Purchase There And Then

Is there anything you can do to make an instant purchase more attractive than shopping online? A money-off voucher for next time? An additional product thrown in?

Deliver A Better Experience

This won’t work every time, but the key difference between online and offline is the experiencethat offline is able to deliver.

I don’t know about you, but the experiences I’ve had in Currys over the last few years have been utterly woeful, leading me to buy electronics online rather than venturing into their cavernous, sparsely inhabited warehouse.  But if their staff were fantastic, informative, friendly and helpful, I might feel compelled to spend my money with them, particularly if they ticked some of the other boxes.

Reward Loyalty

What do you do engender loyalty?  Is there a rewards programme for your physical shoppers?  Rewarding people for buying from you rather than going online is a good way to encourage repeat purchases and customer evangelism.

Show Up Online Too

The reality is that online shopping has changed the face of retail over the last few years, and that’s not going to change.

Contrary to popular belief, not everyone wants to shop online, but the fact of the matter is that lots of people do, so you need to cater to both groups of people. 

Recognise the plus and minus points of both modes of shopping, seek to nullify as many of the minuses as you can, and you’ll be a few steps ahead of lots of your competitors – good luck!

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