About showrooming

In 2013, when Jessops, a well know British camera chain went into administration, one of the stores had this to say – “The staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping with Amazon”. With that it became the first company to go under in 2013, though this was predicted it brought to light the increasingly worrying trend of online competition taking over certain markets eventually causing retailers to go under. Showrooming has been a known concept for some time in the new millennia.Though its impact and a methodology to tackle has only been seen and undertaken recently. In simple terms Showrooming means – The act of examining goods in a Bricks and Mortar store and purchasing them online. According to the Business Insider (www. businessinsider. com) a recent study in the US showed that while shopping in a Bricks and Mortar store, 67% of the customers compared prices online and around 62% of them left the store and purchased the product online. This problem is not restricted to small-time retailers alone.Best Buy Co – the largest electronics retail store – recently claimed that 40% of the customers entering its stores had no intentions of buying. This trend is what prompted predictions by several market analysts that Bricks and Mortar stores shall fade out by 2020. In order to preserve them, retailers shall have to reinvent themselves. Showrooming does not affect all sectors of retail. Items of small value are generally purchased in stores for the instant gratification of the customer.Electronic appliances is the sector worst hit by Showrooming followed by clothing, footwear, food and beverage and so on. The convenience available to customers from shopping online in these sectors like lowest prices, fast delivery to your door step, bonus offers etc are slowly making stores in these sectors obsolete. Further, with no overhead charges and being able to avoid sales tax in some cases allows the online stores to offer prices cheaper than any store could provide.Despite the impact, a recent study by the Google Shopper has suggested that with the usage of smartphones and online media, the average customer’s shopping basket has only grown in size with him/her spending 25-50% higher than before. This clearly suggests that Showrooming is not affecting retail but retailers and the burden is on the Bricks and Mortar store owners is to redefine their approach. Stores suffering the brunt of Showrooming tried different approaches to combat it. The first approach was levying a alk-in/exploring fee on customers who would simply walk in to stores and explored the store. Though this fee was completely refunded on purchasing any product, it acted more as a part of the problem than the solution because it shifted most of the customers completely towards online stores. A better model of this method was introduced by a few fashion stores in which they levied a “fitting fee” on customers looking to try out clothing. Though this method was still better than the walk in fee, it still demotivated the consumer and did not act as a sales ensuring method.Best Buy devised one of the best models to combat Showrooming in big outlets. On the 3rd of March, Best Buy declared that it shall match any price offered by any online store or local retailer. Further, Best Buy went about enhancing their store layouts by introducing the concept of “Store inside Stores” with Samsung. Though not a completely new concept the concept has found takers and Apple’s implementation of it stands as the yardstick for all retailers.Since every store isn’t a Best Buy, retailers need simpler solutions; the simplest one is to improve the in-store shopping experience so that the consumer purchases the product then and there. The best and most efficient way to deliver value in-store and stop Showrooming in its tracks is to leverage technology. Adopting applications like Shopkicks, Foursquare etc has given retailers positive sales results. Further, technology can be used to highly customize and personalize a shopper’s experience and thereby increase sales.The biggest advantage Bricks and Mortar have over online stores is the ability to provide consumers with a “Complete Shopping Experience” – from advice, trials, installation, warranty, to be able to hold the product and finally to be able to purchase the product then and there. These are the basic things stores can work on and use to sustain and improve sales with time. Despite Showrooming and everything associated with it, retail shall always require Bricks and Mortar Stores, if not for sales then to serve out the purpose of Showrooming.For instance in Seoul,Korea Tesco opened a subway virtual supermarket meant for customers to see products, scan and purchase online. Hence, Bricks and Mortar stores are not heading towards extinction; they are facing competition to sustain sales. Showrooming is just another method by which the consumer can get what he/she wants and what price he/she wants it.Referenceshttp://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Showroominghttp://www. bbc. co. uk/news/business-20958659http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/magazine-22098575http://www. prdaily. com/Main/Articles/Retail_fail_Store_charges_browsers_5_to_prevent_sh_1416 0. aspxhttp://www. businessweek. com/articles/2012-06-18/dont-let-showrooming-sabotage-your-shop

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