You’ve likely spent a good deal of time explaining a product or health topic to a shopper, only to have him leave empty handed and then purchase this item elsewhere, either online or from a cheaper competitor down the road. Mobile shopping tools and e-commerce websites have made this scenario, called “showrooming,” even more common. Well, guess what? Experts say don’t sweat it. Although showrooming is real, here to stay and might impact your sales slightly, it shouldn’t be a death knell for your business.
Don’t worry about it. We know showrooming is occurring, but we’re not really concerned about it. There will always be people who’ll cherry-pick us for info, and if they want to leech knowledge and then go elsewhere, that’s on them. Meanwhile, we have enough loyal customers who come in to learn and to buy.
View in-aisle interactions as groundwork for future sales. We operate in a way in which we believe will build loyalty among customers. Most of the time, if someone cares enough to come in and learn about a product, he or she will also make a purchase in your store—maybe not the first time but likely the next, once they’re better informed about their concern and selections.
Strive for excellence. You always have to sharpen your pencil and continue improving upon the services you provide at your store. Keep learning how to manage your employees better, and always give them good compensation and benefits, because happy employees lead to happy customers more than anything else. Also, mobile is the future, so evolve and learn how to engage with consumers on these platforms.
–Scott Roseman, Founder and president of New Leaf Community Markets, a six-store chain in central California
Don’t match competitors’ prices. Price tells customers two things: how much they’ll pay for a product and, more importantly, what it’s worth. Your shoppers usually come to you for product value, not for what it costs. So rather than slashing prices, tell them why an item costs a little more—because it’s the very best. Convey that it’s not about what you’re charging, but what you’re providing.
Keep a positive attitude. Even if you were to lose half your business—which you won’t—you can’t afford to take a loser’s attitude. If a retailer ever adopts a defeatist demeanor, he may as well pack it up and find a new line of work. People are social, and your shoppers want to engage with you, so never exude negativity or apprehension. Good salespeople remain confident and tell customers that they’re smart for shopping with them.
Communicate across platforms. Online, mobile and brick and mortar are not three different modalities. Rather, there’s only one: retail. Even small stores can sell products online, and there are smartphone apps that suggest stores based on location and offerings. Make sure your store is included in these apps, so you’ll pop up.
–Herb Sorensen, PhD, Author of Inside the Mind of the Shopper (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009)
Capitalize on freshness. A huge challenge that online grocers have is freshness. If a shopper wants to buy steak for dinner tonight, he’s not going to order it online. Nor does he want to receive lettuce that’s a couple of days old. This is a distinct advantage for brick-and-mortar grocers. Actively embrace your model, which promotes freshness, and it will attract and keep customers.
Use social media. Consumers are explicit on social media about what they like and why they leave retailers. Via active social media engagement, you can get a sense of why people shop with you and what they crave from your distinct offerings. You can also find out what competitors are doing poorly and then address those shortcomings at your store. Keep reminding customers via Facebook, Twitter
or Instagram that you’re there and will deliver on their expectations.
Share, don’t stifle, information. With today’s proliferation of smartphones and QR code use, consumers can compare prices and get all kinds of information whenever they want. Actively concealing info is unwise—and consumers will see through it—so make it readily available and add to it. You’ll be helping them with the decision-making process.
–Jehan Hamedi, Global market development manager at Boston-based Crimson Hexagon