How The Mobile “Showrooming” Threat Is Changing the Retail Industry

How The Mobile “Showrooming” Threat Is Changing the Retail Industry

In recent years “showrooming”, the act of previewing merchandise or a product in a store and then buying it later online, has become a common practice. Websites, like Amazon, compare products, vendors, and prices to find the best deal for consumers instantly. However, many people want to see the physical product before buying it so will go to a brick-and-mortar retailer, to view the item first.
As smart phone use is rising, showrooming is also rising. Customers used to wait to compare prices when they were home, but now have instant price and product comparisons in their finger tips. They may or may not have consulted others in their buying decisions. Now, it’s common for customers to share deals on their social media networks and have the ability to read products reviews immediately on their smartphones and get personal recommendations for most items.
Many retailers cannot compete with in the e-commerce price wars of online shopping and are going to suffer lost revenues. However, many companies are trying to use smartphone capability to their advantage. Best Buy was one of the largest victims of showrooming. To ensure sales to customers already in their stores, Best Buy introduced a price matching policy with 19 of its major competitors. Target also introduced a similar policy. Now, when you see are looking at a product in a store and see that a Facebook friend bought the same product for a lower price, you can get the same lower price.
What strategies other than price-matching are brick-and-mortar retailers employing to combat showrooming?

How can companies use social media platforms to encourage shoppers to make purchases while they are in the brick-and-mortar retailer?

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3 thoughts on “How The Mobile “Showrooming” Threat Is Changing the Retail Industry

  1. If I window shop it is literally looking in the window as I do all my shopping on-line and simply search for the best deals. I have on occasion gone into a store, such as to purchase large ticket items and to ask questions and often argue for a further discount from the lowest comparable price if they wanted my business.

    “Showrooming” is precisely why many bookstores (as an example) have gone out of business already and I am guilty of this as well. I’ve certainly passed time in a bookstore at Penn Station and bought a book on my iPhone from Amazon, often holding the very book I want for verification purposes in that bookstore.

    Perhaps these retailers need to incentivize people even more to buy the product from them as simple retail price and discount manipulation doesn’t work anymore with comparisons available instantly via mobile phones.

    No longer is their a need to keep people “in” the store to encourage sales, rather keeping people from buying products from a competitor while “in” their store seems to be a more important issue at this point.

    Perhaps they can block people from accessing competitor websites on their own wi-fi service while in the store?

  2. Brick-and-mortar retailers need to go above and beyond what online retailers offer in order to combat “showrooming.” This proves to be especially challenging today because many online retailers now provide quick shipping at no cost. The traditional chains should focus on the customer experience in the actual store. Service must be superior, product inventory must always be managed to perfection, and there needs to be additional offerings that online merchants do not provide. Example of these might consist of repairs, maintenance, and trouble-shooting. Blocking access to the Internet from mobile phones might work but this could also backfire by irritating the consumer.

    I do not think brick-and-mortar retailers will be replaced by e-commerce because seeing/touching the item, especially “big-ticket items,” is so important to the consumer. It would seem kind of unusual to me if someone purchased a washer or dryer straight from online before checking it out in person to make sure it would fit in their living space, they like the color, etc.

  3. The idea of showrooming is not going away and big retailers have a difficult challenge. Personally, it doesn’t phase me to consider these big brick-and-mortar stores closing for good. I prefer online shopping and with experience I’ve become good at it.
    I think in the next decade a lot of these chains will either go out of business or will have their business model dramatically change. I think we should embrace this change, because shopping is only becoming more convenient.

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