Showrooming; Time to Act

27 Jan


Showrooming, definition; Inspecting products in a brick and mortar in order to then purchase online at the lowest price. I have to admit I am guilty, more than once I have done so. Unforgivable, especially as my pose is the champion supporter of all things retail, brick and mortar in particular. This practice is another hurdle in a long line of developments that brick and mortar retailers are forced to jump. What to do?

Target, saw a decline in their sales of electronics last Christmas, this comes as no surprise. The irony of that lies in the fact that the very product and technology that we are embracing daily in our own retail lives can be formidable enemy and could be our undoing. As internet use increases and price comparisons are a google click away retailers have no choice but to wear two hats, it is imperative that brick and mortar both embrace the new social media and at same time make the store experience superlative. The one bright spot in all this challenge is the fact that reality “shopping” is Americas favorite sport. The virtual marketplace will never replace the pleasure of strolling urban blocks of fascinating shops laden with bags containing all the latest “must haves” on a bright afternoon in May.

The recession has raised price consciousness to unimaginable heights. How as a shop keeper do I overcome the question of price? Target has resorted to requesting proprietary products from their vendors, which they can get away with due to their size. Local retailers do not have that advantage, they must rely on the developement of a loyal customer base. It’s about service, product knowledge, follow-up and unique presentation that make the small local retailer appealing. Only by increasing the “percieved value” of the product can a retailer overcome price comparisons and win support to create a loyal customer. The price shopper will always be just that, about price. Single out those customers who value a more personal relationship and value your opinion.

At the onset of  economic distress I thought my career had ended. Time to start painting again and return to my roots. I am pleased to say that this year M.Fried and I have experienced a rebound. Maybe the recession has proved to be a positive influence. The retailing field has been culled of unnecessary participants and too many national acts. Those who survived the shake up are now poised to move forward armed again with the resolve to succeed. The recovery still lies before us. The time  to re-examine our business’s is now. Never since the advent of print advertising has retail faced such sweeping changes. The showroom is where it all begins whether virtual or brick and mortar or both, ask yourself, what am I doing to create customer loyalty? to eliminate price comparison. Retail is coming back now is the time to act. 


One Response to “Showrooming; Time to Act”

  1. bob Smith January 28, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

    I totally agree with the need to improve the brick and mortar experience. Just walk into any Apple store and as crowed as it may be, its a happening. You don’t have to be a geek to go into sensory overload and your wish list starts while playing with the latest gadget. The stores are beautiful, clean and bright and always inviting.

    This week I met with a computer software company that has taken the point of sale technology that Apple uses and has made it affordable for small retailers. Its a collaborative effort that uses Apple hardware and light speed software to give even the smallest retailer the slick checkout experience using just a hand held or Ipad. This idea was hatched because so many retailers who visited the Apple stores were “wowed” when the sales clerk pulled out their iphone and asked: “would you like your receipt emailed to you?”. This just blows the mind of the average independent retailer who always said: “why can’t I have that in my store”?. Now you can.

    This is just one example of how retailers must stay ahead in all areas of the “brick and Mortar” experience. Your store has to be friendly, with knowledgeable staff, good merchandising, creative marketing and all the back end stuff like websites and social media in place for the little engine to keep chugging. The independent retailer can win. Some very big guys have folded up headed for the hills, yet, there are still independent single stores and small chains that are doing ok in this crazy economy. The independent retailer has one very distinct advantage-the ability to act quickly and build store loyalty through relationships. Its like your favorite pub, its nice to shop at a place “where everybody knows your name”. In my experience as a retailer for 32 years, service is the secret weapon.

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