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Friday, March 2, 2012

Showrooming: A name for the consumer’s practice of shopping in-store and then buying online

Observation:   A study from NPD was summarized in today’s Marketing Daily, and focuses on the consumer’s new tendency to shop in a variety of channels (small retail, big-box, department and warehouse stores), and then buy the item online.   Click here to see the story.

Implications:   This is a genie that’s going to be hard to put back in the bottle.  So the question becomes, what can you do about it?

Is there any incentive you can offer that encourages the consumer to buy “right then and there?”  Why not offer little notecards or notepads and pencils to consumers who might want to write down details of the product on your shelf… and make sure those note-taking tools have an incentive to check your site first?  (And your URL, of course.)

This all sounds very simple, doesn’t it?  And yet, not too long ago, my wife and I were shopping for a new set of appliances.  I wanted to get the dimensions for the microwave we were planning to install (I was working on the cabinetry), so I ran to our nearest Best Buy to check it out.  When I was going to shoot the price/information tag with my cell phone camera, the department manager came and ripped it out of the display and scolded, “You can’t do that!  It’s not allowed.”  So I went home, got online and checked the details at a competitor’s website (which I should thought to do in the first place).  We ended up buying at the competitor’s store (not just the microwave, but the whole kitchen suite).   Instead of preventing me from getting product and price information, the behavior of the Best Buy associate had the effect of sending me directly into the arms of a competitor.

People will go online for product and price information.  Instead of trying to block it, why not harness that power, and make sure they hit your site first?

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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