Showrooming: part 3

In my previous blog post I described how high street shop owners could combat showrooming by focussing on the things that shoppers like about physical shops.

The paper from Ericsson that I mentioned in my last post also analyses what people dislike about shopping in high street stores and compares this with the reasons people like shopping online.

This is of course useful information for any retailer who wants to identify how to persuade people to buy things in their stores rather than using them as showrooms and then shopping online. There are also some lessons here for retailers who want to reduce showrooming.

According to Ericsson, 51% of shoppers dislike physical shops because of the crowds and the queues. Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from theme parks here. Retailers could at least make the process of queuing to pay a little less boring. I am not suggesting they should get staff to dress up as Mickey Mouse and sing to the waiting shoppers! But retailers could at least provide music or video to people waiting in line. Willing buyers deserting their intended purchases because they are bored of queuing is a significant cause of lost sales and possibly a driver of showrooming behaviour.

The ability to compare prices and research items is a strong reason that many people (71%) like on-line shopping. Retailers can counter this strength by providing adequate information to enable people to research in store, perhaps through kiosks or of course adequately trained sales teams.

Another thing 33% of shoppers dislike is the fact that they are unable to go shopping 24/7 on the high street. This can’t, by its nature, be a major cause of showrooming. And it is hard to counter that except by reminding shoppers of the retailer’s website and perhaps promoting “when we are closed” offers that deliver some extra value to people shopping outside store opening hours.

Next in the line of shopper “hates” is poor service. Interestingly a lack of sales pressure is given as a reason for liking on-line shopping by 59% of shoppers. It should not be beyond retailers to provide good service together with a lack of sales pressure. Certainly grocery chains and DIY “sheds” seem to have this problem largely solved. However, poor service in shops as well as pushy sales people may well be reasons that people shop on-line but they are less likely to be drivers of showrooming behaviour.

Having a greater selection of items available is given as a reason to shop on-line by a majority (61%) of shoppers. However, only 12% of shoppers say they dislike shops because of the lack of choice. Indeed, reducing choice can often drive up conversion rates as people find it easier to select an item that suits them when they are not confused by having too many options. However, high street shops could usefully integrate their on-line shops into their high street shops. An example here is John Lewis: a shopper looking for an item that is out of stock in a particular store is likely to be taken to the John Lewis website by a shop assistant and sold the item on-line for home deliver or later “click and collect”.

Showrooming is a certainly problem for some retail categories, although perhaps not as large a problem as is sometimes made out, but there are definitely many things that retailers can do to combat it, both by enhancing the things that people like about high street shopping and by dealing with the reasons have for prefering on-line retail.

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