Today I was introduced to a new term called showrooming. Basically, showrooming is when a customer visits a physical store but eventually makes their purchase online. Most “customers” still want to physically touch and see the merchandise before they buy it. This turns brick and mortar stores into showrooms where “customers” can “kick tires”. The problem is that the store doesn’t end up making the sale because the “customer” is essentially price shopping.
While the term showrooming is relatively new (to me), I have been doing this to some extent for a while. Before the advent of the internet I would visit several stores to shop for the best price. Once I located the best price, I would return to that particular store and make my purchase. If I was lucky, the lowest price would be the last store I visited or at least a store that was close by! This took some time to do but it was worth it if I was looking to make a big purchase! As a customer or consumer I want to find the best price possible. I am sure that most people who read this post have probably done the same thing! This is the customers point of view but what about looking at this from the point of view of the business?
Now, lets look at the brick & mortar business owners point of view. The owner of a brick & mortar store is in business to make a profit! This applies to the online store owner as well but the owner of a brick & mortar store has to pay the rent, electric bill, water, employees etc. The physical store front has much more invested and at stake then someone running an online store. I can completely understand their frustration when someone comes in and appears to be interested in buying a product only to walk out the door and order it cheaper from an online retailer like amazon.
Okay, so what is a business supposed to do to try and lure these customers in to purchasing from them? Larger big box retailers have been matching prices of online retailers such as Amazon. BestBuy is one such retailer that has a policy that they will match an online retailers price. Do you think that Best Buy matching prices will increase their sales? I am sure it has! Think about it. If the price is the same, and you have the benefit of a knowledgeable sales associate, the sale will be made! In addition, most consumers want everything instantly. With a brick and mortar store they can take the product home that day!
What else can a brick & mortar business do to make more sales? Excellent customer service. The sales associates should know the products inside and out. The sales associates should help the customer choose the appropriate product. Let me give you a real world example. In Lake Wales, Florida the local True Value Hardware is owned and operated by Cliff Todges and his son Larry. Sometime his prices are a little higher than if I were to go to Lowes or Home Depot but a lot of time I still go to True Value! Why would I do that? Because, as soon as I walk in the door Cliff or Larry greet me and ask me what am I looking for. Then, they will lead me to the where the item I am looking for is located! In addition, they know all about their products and have helped me choose what to buy many times. This is why I will be returning to the Lake Wales True Value Hardware!
As the internet continues to become more a part of our lives brick & mortar stores will need to adapt. Smaller Mom & Pop stores will need to take the approach to customer service that the Lake Wales True Value Hardware has. Can you think of some additional tactics that brick & mortar businesses can try?
Thanks for your input,