How to compete with showrooming

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Many retailers fear the rise of e-commerce. As customers increasingly visit big box stores online, it seems difficult for brick and mortar stores to keep up. However, with a combination of awesome visual merchandising, customer service, and other attributes that contribute to in-store shopping experience, retailers can fight back.

What is showrooming?
Showrooming is when customers view items at a brick-and-mortar store but purchase them online at a lower price. According to an infographic from Wise Pricer, about 20 percent of customers engage in showrooming. Electronics and appliances is the category that is hit the hardest by this trend, followed by books and music and sporting goods. About 80 percent of retailers are affected.  

However, as the infographic also points out, there are cases when customers prefer the in store experience. For instance, if they need something right away, they prefer to come to the store. Other reasons include preferring to buy local, obtaining better service and greater trust of brick-and-mortar retailers over online stores.

Create a destination
There's a sense of luxury that goes along with visiting a store that can't be replicated online. According to the National Retail Federation, designing destinations and communities could be one way to combat the showrooming trend. Create cozy lounge areas. Offer customers drinks. Provide music or aroma that enhances the experience. Do something cool and memorable.

Have awesome service
Customers can find what they need doing online research, but it's never a good substitute for an employee that has all the answers. Invest in awesome people who will learn all about your products and be able to have meaningful conversations with customers about them.

Visual merchandising
It's hard to recreate discovery online in the same way as in store. Creative visual merchandising can help customers discover new products and look at familiar products in new ways. Create window displays and use store display fixtures to draw attention to certain products. The result is better than anything comparable you could put together online.

Emphasize impulse buys
On e-commerce sites, customers generally know what they want already, which makes it hard to suggest additional products. Another advantage retailers have is the ability to use strategically placed signage to drive purchases in store. Use signage to guide visitors around and draw attention to sales and seasonal products. Strategically place smaller items near the counter to encourage last minute buys.

Embrace showrooming
More than half of smartphone owners have researched prices while in a store. But just because a customer is on his or her phone, doesn't mean they want to purchase your products elsewhere. They may be looking up reviews or additional information. You shouldn't discourage this behavior, but make it easier. Include QR codes that allow customer to quickly access additional information and offer free Wi-Fi so that customers can access this information easily.

With visual merchandising and display tactics, retailers can easily compete with the showrooming trend.

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