Showrooming - the practice of visiting a store and then going online to find a better deal - has been a concern for many brands for some time now. Unless your brand is willing to compete on price alone, showrooming can mean losing the business of digitally savvy customers.
But as this week's reads show, innovative brands are fighting back - and they're fighting back hard. Improving your digital strategy is one approach, but some brands are doing more than that, using the insight they get from their customers to improve the in-store experience and to provide a more cohesive 'omnichannel' experience in-store, online and via mobile. This is something we see in our practice as well: We work with clients who engage their community of customers to better understand and deliver a meaningful omnichannel experience in the era of showrooming.
Here are three examples of how global brands are responding to the threat of showrooming:
- Dixons Retail uses customer feedback to improve in-store experience for all customers.
Enticing people in for a "play" is easier for those sectors with products rather than services to sell. But even the technology brands have to work hard on store formats to create an environment in which shoppers feel comfortable to browse.
Dixons Retail is a case in point. Extensive research and customer feedback found that the company's Currys & PC World stores were alienating female shoppers. With the technology on show, the experience needed to be interactive and fun.
Its new 'store of the future' at Bluewater, has softer lighting, the colour palette leans towards the fairer sex and 'play tables' aim to turn the space into an 'urban toy shop'. The products have also been given more "dignity", says [Dixons Retail head of design Chris] Bright, with the point of sale areas de-cluttered.
"Every product in the store is live and we believe that enabling customers to touch and feel the product is a step ahead of those stores in which gadgets are locked in a cabinet," says Bright.
TWEET THIS: Retailer @DixonsRetail uses customer feedback to battle #showrooming. More info via @VisionCritical roundup: http://ow.ly/wVDXd
- Luxury brands improve online-buying experience and offer in-store pickups for online purchases.
"The key reason for buying online is being able to shop whenever it's convenient to the consumer," says Linda Dauriz, a partner at McKinsey & Company in Germany. "It's complementary to the store experience."
Few luxury brands have figured out how to do it. Only Burberry BRBY.LN -0.20% PLC offers in-store pickups for online purchases, according to Exane. That is what drives shoppers to sites such as Neiman Marcus. The U.S. department store's site, which offers shipping to more than 100 countries, lets consumers pick up online orders in its stores within two hours of purchase.
"We've reduced the time it takes for a page to load by three to four seconds," says John Koryl, who was recently elevated to president of Neiman Marcus Stores and Online.
Far from scrambling, the luxury industry says its strategy is the right one for discerning shoppers. - Christina Passeriello, Suzanne Kapner and Manuela Mesco, The Wall Street Journal
TWEET THIS: To battle #showrooming, @Burberry and other luxury brands offer in-store pickup for online purchases: http://ow.ly/wVDXd via @VisionCritical
- Sephora steps up digital strategy to let customers research products while in store.
"We think the customers should use their phones in stores," said Johnna Marcus, Sephora's director of mobile and digital store marketing, at Retail's BIG Show hosted by the NRF. "Your phone is in your hand all the time, so we're using the mobile experience to transform the shopping experience."
In developing such a transformation, Sephora has emerged as a leading retailer when it comes to digital strategy. One third-of its e-commerce traffic comes from mobile and tablet devices, while its Sephora To Go app remains a huge success. Part of that success stems from the app's focus on nurturing loyalty among and providing convenience for Sephora shoppers. Participants in the company's Beauty Insider loyalty program can use the app to keep track of current store promos, past purchases, and loyalty points earned. Marcus says this has become one of the most popular features of the app, because if a customer is only a few dollars short of earning her next reward, she can update her shopping basket before she gets to the register.
"Our customers can use the app to track her Beauty Insider points, so while she's shopping, she knows how many she has and can shop accordingly," explained Marcus.
Information on past purchases is not only helpful for the consumer, but it's valuable for Sephora, too. It's not uncommon for a beauty shopper to lose track of the exact foundation shade or lipstick color purchased previously. For these types of repeat purchases, Sephora is able to intervene, look up the info at the register, and further drive that customer to make her purchase in-store. - Nicole Marie Melton, Fierce Retail
TWEET THIS: Cosmetics chain @Sephora steps up digital strategy to encourage #showrooming. More in this @VisionCritical roundup: http://ow.ly/wVDXd
How is your brand responding to showrooming? Let us know by leaving a comment below.