Showrooming occurs when customers use offline stores to interact with products and buy the same products online at a price lower than that at offline stores. This can cause substantial losses for offline stores (Bestbuy was often called Amazon’s showroom). Offline stores can counter this by increasing the chances of converting both showroomers and non-showroomers by
a) High-quality sales interactions that are empathetic and customer-focused.
b) Price matching
c) Suggesting alternate products
d) Explaining the store’s return policy
While omnichannel retail is gaining traction, it comes with its own set of problems for retailers. One of these is showrooming, the tendency of customers to use brick-and-mortar stores to gather information before purchasing online. According to a survey, 68% of customers buy online after collecting information at a store. Showrooming is a severe threat to traditional retailers. It reduces sales, hurts morale, and can lead to lower profitability and job cuts. This begs the question: How can brick-and-mortar retailers prevent showrooming and convert potential showroomers into buyers? A study examines salesperson interaction and its impact on buying intention to answer this question.
The study found that high interaction quality increases showroomers’ in-store buying intention. This happens because of a human need to reciprocate helpful acts with positive actions. When a salesperson makes a customer feel valued, the customer might reciprocate by spending more money in-store and choosing to buy at the store instead of showrooming. High-quality interaction includes many actions like introducing oneself, having a pleasant and genuinely helpful attitude, focusing on customers’ needs, providing accurate information and resources, and solving customers’ problems quickly.
The tactic of high-quality interaction is applicable especially when the store matches the online price. Showroomers tend to be price sensitive. Since online retailers often sell the same products at a lower price, they prefer to buy online. When a salesperson matches the online price, showroomers view the effort positively and are often willing to buy in-store. However, just price-matching may not be effective, and high-quality interaction should go hand-in-hand with price-matching to entice showroomers to buy in-store.
Further, the salesperson suggesting an alternate product or explaining the store’s return policy also positively impacts the buying intention of potential showroomers. Customers sometimes don’t know which product is best suited to their needs. A salesperson showing them alternative products assures them that salespersons consider their interests. Similarly, when salespersons explain the store’s return policy, customers are reassured that the salespersons have their best interests at heart. Both these tactics thus encourage potential showroomers to purchase in-store.
Interestingly, the tactics discussed above worked for both showroomers and non-showroomers, according to the study. This means that the application of these tactics at brick-and-mortar retail stores can boost sales for both types of customers. These tactics should be implemented regardless of whether a store is affected by showrooming or not.
The study has interesting implications for brick-and-mortar retailers. The low-cost tactics discovered by the study can be implemented by them not only for regular customers but for showroomers as well. They should invest in sales training to ensure that the sales staff has the skills necessary to deliver high-quality interaction. They should also raise awareness among salepeople about the effectiveness of the tactics. Salespeople often feel that their efforts are wasted on showroomers, so it is important for retailers to convince them to use these tactics. Finally, retailers should also offer price-matching, suitable alternatives, and a customer-friendly return policy. A combination of these factors will help them turn showroomers into potential customers.