In a recent blog we reported on the top five digital disruptions that physical bricks and mortar stores face in the modern retail world. Number one was showrooming – the practice of browsing and comparing prices online whilst perusing the shelves of a store – and, as we warned then, it is happening in your store right NOW.
In our modern mobile age, this shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. According to an Econsultancy report, 43% of UK shoppers are using their smartphones whilst in-store to compare prices and read reviews. Showrooming is a trend born of our increased 4G-enabled world, of consumer’s greater connection to their devices and, of course, the savvy shopper’s ever-keen eye for a bargain. Again not a surprise but a real threat nonetheless. Just ask the former employees of British camera retailer Jessops who, upon hearing the brand had gone into administration in 2013, posted a picture in their shop window that read “The staff at Jessops would like to thank you for shopping with Amazon”. It is evidence that digital disruption can and is having a real impact on what names we see, and will continue to see, on our high street.
However, we like to focus on the opportunities as much as the threats and we believe showrooming has a place in British retail as a tool for good so here’s our top showrooming opportunities for your brand.
Be Competitive, Be Comparable
A retailer’s response to “be competitive” usually falls at the door of pricing and instantly translates to “be cheaper”. However, we all know pricing wars are not a sustainable battle and, in many cases, can have detrimental effects on customer opinion by cheapening your brand. So if you can’t be competitive on price alone then you need to be competitive in service, and that’s where simple tools such as free in-store Wi-Fi, branded mobile apps, in-the-moment coupons and in-store advisory engagements could help.
The opportunity for brands to own the in-store mobile experience cannot be ignored. If a customer is using 4G to access reviews, additional product information or a better deal then owning the gateway could be one of the top opportunities a retailer has for up or cross-selling in-store. Try using branded mobile apps to show videos or additional content to help the customer make a purchase decision, then team that with location and personalisation to your advantage by offering trigger-based incentives along the journey. There’s no better time to offer a discount of a product then when a potential customer is ten feet away from your till. Something Tesco learnt when combining Clubcard data to give instant discounts when customers logged onto their in-store Wi-Fi.
Another clever option is to follow in the footsteps of the likes of EE, empowering in-store sales staff by arming them with handheld tablets loaded with the intelligent guided sales tool. This powerful omnichannel solution streamlines online, in-store, and call centre sales and service teams, focusing on individual customer needs and providing an advisory-style engagement experience that exceeds their expectations.
Connecting the customer journey to allow brands to promote advocacy, allow for cross-sell opportunities and put the power of customer experience in the hands of retailers has never been more important, and the platform eases friction, speeds up sales and quickly identifies the customers best deal without them taking to their own mobile or tablet to identify other, possibly competitor, deals.
The best part? If a potential customer does leave the physical store empty handed, Rippl is designed to follow them along their journey, so companies are able to email about deals spoken about in store, and any call centre advisor will be able to pick up from where an in-store advocate left off in just a few clicks.
Add Physical Value
Physical value is built upon the customer experience. If a website can offer reviews or cheaper prices, what can your store offer to make it stand out? How can a retailer use the same device customers are using in-store to their advantage?
We’ve already talked about offering connectivity as a service but how about using ‘reverse showrooming’ as a tactic. Also known as web rooming, reverse showrooming is when a consumer researches online first but goes into a physical store to complete the purchase and it is very much powered by customer experience. Being able to see your store based on knowledgeable staff, offer in-store technology and connectivity all drive the value of digital disruption in-store.
Store Within a Store
If the headlines are to be believed, showrooming and the advent of a digital-first approach to shopping will spell the end of the high street. Although we don’t agree with the doomsayers, digital adoption has hit the shops hard and it could see a rethink of business models, most notably thinking around offering more services in-store.
In the UK, we have seen UK pharmacy chain Boots offer ASOS customers the option to pick up parcels in-store as well as Argos launching warehouse-free kiosks in Tesco. Kiosks, I hear you cry, weren’t they tried, tested and dismissed years ago? Well, yes, but with retailers finally developing convincing multichannel strategies they are back, and unlike previous examples they have a clear purpose, are transactional and can allow retailers to extend the edited ranges they offer in stores.
The idea of retailers renting space to other vendors is commonplace in Asia and we’re starting to see its impact on our shores. Rent, sales revenue fees and other commercial kick backs all help justify the store within a store concept but the halo effect of offering ‘more’ in-store cannot be ignored either. Turning your store into a destination where customers can shop, run errands or even have a coffee with friend all make the shopping experience more than ‘buy, buy, buy’. It’s social, it’s convenience and it’s more than a .com can offer.
If mobile isn’t going away – and we all know it isn’t – then retailers need to embrace its ability to improve customer experience to stay inline and ahead of digital disruption. All businesses have a window in which they need to change and adapt, bringing in new SaaS platforms to perform for the ever-savvy consumer across all channels. How big is your window?
How will you turn customer behaviour into a competitive advantage?
Look forward to hearing your thoughts.