I went to two computer stores and two consumer electronics stores (chains) in my city to find a bigger monitor. It took me a long, long time to inspect each shop because I was browsing the net on my smartphone and not really ‘shopping’! At one shop, a grumpy shopper not far from me commented that “everyone’s on Facebook, even while shopping”. But, you know what? I was not Facebooking, I was SHOWROOMING!
Showrooming is when…
You walk into a store, browse the aisles while also searching for the same or similar products (monitors in my case) on the net, using your mobile device. Then you go home empty-handed and instead purchase online. This is usually a planned behaviour.
In my case, I then wait for the weekend so that I can order the monitor online where it’s available for less than the shops were ready to sell them for. I do this often with products that cost more than $150.
Sometimes I go to a brick-and-mortar retail store to see products so I can test or measure them and decide on a colour or texture.
At other times, I go with the intention to buy but then while browsing the net with my smartphone I decide that online shopping or getting it directly from the brand would be cheaper. And more beneficial (e.g. better warranty, low taxes and free shipping and returns).
Have you done this? Just browsing with the intention to buy online?
I also go webrooming
Webrooming or e-rooming is the opposite of showrooming.
This is when you browse the net first, look for what you want and then go out to the offline store to buy the product.
I do this only if it’s definitely cheaper, more convenient and when there’s an urgency or when it’s only available at that store.
How retailers could reduce showrooming
Internet on mobile phones. It’s a powerful thing.
Retailers have met their match but most still have to catch up.
There are a few things that I think a retailer could to do lure us in:
- Do something about it if they’re worried.
- Offer shoppers a better price.
- Make their loyalty program worth our time (I bet you rarely benefit from most of them).
- Up their game in customer service. No one wants to talk to someone chewing gum with mouths wide shut.
- Give better store ambience. And stop it with the same music over and over and… Michael Buble, anyone?
- Train specialty store staff so they’re knowledgeable and product savvy. I once had to show a guy how to remove the battery from a phone he was selling me.
- Offer free or cheap delivery if you’re within 10km from the store. I once hired a van for two days for the same price a store 10 km from my house was quoting me to deliver my new queen size mattress. I got to use the van to take loads of stuff to the Salvos and the landfill.
- Give a better return policy (e.g. a 30-day cooling off period, not 7 days). My favourite store used to allow only 7 days. So if I was on Christmas holiday out in country region for a week and my husband gave me a gift that had parts missing, I wasn’t able to return it.
- Extend periods to redeem reward vouchers. Surely you can’t expect me to buy a bag every fortnight. Gimme a voucher that’s valid the entire year.
In a nutshell: shoppers don’t solely base shopping on price. You must show us why we should buy from you. What’s in it for us?
Are YOU a showroomer?
Do we all showroom? Do we all showroom for the same reasons?
There are five different types of mobile-assisted shoppers, according to the recent Showrooming and The Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper report from the Columbia Business School (New York).
I’m usually a Savvy or an Exploiter, in that order.
The Exploiters premeditate their online purchases and are driven by not only cheaper prices but the benefits of online purchases. They come to look in person. When they browse they are checking further information from the shop’s site (or brand’s site).
The Savvys are strategic and will weigh various factors. If there’s an urgency they will buy from a brick-and-mortar store even though they know the online prices are equal or lower. They use their devices in-store to check prices, details and reviews.
The Price-Sensitives don’t plan to buy but may take a good deal if they see it or if they have experienced the product through an in-store demonstration. They don’t use their mobile devices as much and tend to leave them tucked away.
The Traditionalists trust brick-and-mortar stores more than online stores. They use their devices to make decisions then go to the store for the ‘in-person’ experience. They don’t usually download apps and very rarely engage with the retailer online.
The Experience-Seekers very rarely showroom. They search retailers’ sites in-store to see the products they came for and then find them on the shelves. They are somewhat ‘loyal’, engage with the retailers, write reviews and suggest changes.
So this showrooming thing, huh?
I don’t think showrooming is a bad thing. I think it’s good to keep retailers and marketers on their toes to find better ways to bring benefits to shoppers.
Not everyone you see in-store are browsing their mobile phones for the same reasons. Some could be browsing the net while browsing shops to:
- check out products
- read review articles
- watch reviews on YouTube or other sources
- look up better deals elsewhere
- post a question on social media (e.g. Facebook and Twitter) about the product.
Not being anti-social. Not at all!
But yes, sometimes we could be Facebooking, like the shopper commented that day while I was out shopping. So anyway… don’t be so quick to panic!
Do you showroom or webroom?
What kind of showroomer are you?