Generally speaking, retailers see showrooming as a threat to their longevity. Since it is impossible to slow down the expansion of e-commerce, physical outlets must deploy new strategies to attract consumers to visit their stores. Discover the reasons why showrooming is successful, and what levers are available to help the retail industry compete effectively against online competition.
What is showrooming?
Showrooming describes the practice whereby consumers visit a store to discover a product, in order to confirm their intent to buy it. Directly on the spot using their smartphones, they check the availability of the item on e-commerce sites or price comparators, to make sure that the offer they have in front of them is the cheapest. The sale is then usually made online and not in the store. In this way, physical stores become free and accessible display spaces. Showrooming has also seen the emergence of an opposite, but nonetheless related, trend, webrooming or RoPo. This is where a consumer goes onto the internet in order to obtain information about a product and then buys it in a store.
The main reasons for the growth of showrooming
Showrooming is a new step in the customer journey, viewed as an additional challenge for retail professionals. There is variety of reasons why consumers buy online:
• Items out-of-stock in the store;
• Wait too long at the checkout;
• Sometimes cheaper prices on the internet
Lower prices online
Purchasing the same product for a lower price than in a store is one of the main drivers that pushes consumers towards online shopping. Promotions, flash offers and discounts offered for a first order or for signing up to a newsletter are significant advantages for e-merchants.
Out-of-stock items in the store
The retail sector suffers from the reign of immediacy: the consumer in a hurry has no intention of waiting for their item. This presupposes that companies have complex logistics in place to meet this demand (management of supply and access to a storage location). e-merchants, however, do not have this problem. But if the consumer does not find the item they are looking for in the store, they will turn to websites where stocks are available.
Home delivery has marked the advent of e-commerce, especially when it is free and fast. This option does not encourage in-store visits, especially if the store does not promise a real experience which is worth the effort. After all, getting to the store is a time-consuming constraint (using a means of transport, queuing up in order to try out and/or pay for the purchase), which is not necessarily offset by added value justifying the cost of the journey.
Note: for its counterpart, webrooming, it is the costs related to shipping and delivery lead times that are obstacles to making online purchases.
The challenges facing physical stores
In order to compete with the internet, the main challenge facing retailers is to reinvent the in-store experience for customers: maintaining stores requires special attention being given to one’s customers. For many companies, building a digital strategy means meeting the need to deliver a new experience and services to customers, increasingly qualified and customised. By increasing the number of points of contact with their customers through cross-channel marketing, physical outlets also increase their chances of attracting them back into the store. Indeed, physical stores have many strengths they can capitalise on: delivery conditions are the main obstacle to online sales, as well as the after-sales service.
Offering an omni-channel experience
The key challenge for retailers is to increasingly narrow down the difference between stores and websites, because omni-channel retailing is an important growth lever which aims to create a better shopping experience.
By multiplying the online contact points, social media, and the physical stores, the prospect has a wide choice of buying channels, one of which they will inevitably prefer. Deploying an omni-channel marketing strategy can drive in-store traffic, by attracting qualified leads into the stores through a digital presence. This technique leads to a focus on a personalised and unique customer experience in stores with the aim of transforming leads into customers more easily and thus increasing conversion rates.
Do you need an example of a tool to deliver an omni-channel experience? Digitising outlets using digital signage proves to be one of the most cost-effective strategies. It involves placing screens—tablets, totems, and touch screens to browse a catalogue or order directly —in key, high-traffic locations. The retailer must be able to use these innovations to once again place physical outlets at the heart of the customer experience.
Offering more in-store services
Physical retailers must develop advanced, exclusive, and expert services and in-store benefits to persuade their leads to buy from them. The main goal is to restore meaning to a store visit: it must offer a real experience and deliver added value, whether it results in a purchase or not. The first lever of success is to provide tailored service and expertise: it is crucial that the staff are as well informed as customers. Increasingly connected, the consumer needs to interact with an equally informed salesperson to be able to trust their opinion.
Finally, an e-commerce site brings ultra-personalised browsing to customers: thanks to their purchase history and discovery path, it highlights those products that match their needs. Their buying journey is thus perfectly marked out; an in-store salesperson must be able to demonstrate great listening ability in order to offer a comparable service.
Strengthening customer engagement
Another possibility to help retailers deal with the wave of online sales is to develop customer engagement through a loyalty strategy. This can be based on a reward policy (promotions, exclusive additional services, etc.) for customers who travel to the store. Here, for example, QR codes can be used create a connection link between the physical store and the online site: by offering promotions and discounts, they encourage consumers to visit the store. Stores can also take advantage of their smartphones in situ to encourage them to share their reviews live, or to collect their contact details via a newsletter subscription.
It is by cultivating a close relationship with its customers that it is possible to create a sense of attachment to the brand. For new consumers, the use of online marketing campaigns is essential; they must be addressed in an appropriate way through the channels they use, social media in particular.
Digital signage for connected retail outlets
In order to counter the fall in customer traffic, physical stores have many tools at their disposal to adapt and imagine new experience concepts. The digitisation of sales areas is one of the most efficient and cost-effective solutions for generating qualified in-store traffic and boosting their sales. As a gateway between the physical outlet and the digital world, digital signage is proving to be a significant tool for delivering an innovative experience. Cenareo and its dedicated digital display management system facilitate interaction, and add a vast area of expression to deliver impactful content. Digital signage is a very powerful communication method, and can be easily deployed and tailored according to its objectives. Flexible and intuitive, the Cenareo solution makes this innovative communication channel a field of experimentation with strong ROI, to adapt sales areas to digitisation needs.
Looking for ways to generate qualified traffic and deliver a new customer experience? Cenareo supports you in deploying your marketing strategy, thanks to its system dedicated to digital signage. Create, plan, and deliver impactful content to your fleet of screens to meet tomorrow’s trends and your customers’ needs.