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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Target: Showrooming

Observation:   About a month ago, I published a post on the practice of Showrooming, where consumers shop at a bricks-and-mortar store but then make the purchase online (see “Showrooming,” March 3).

This morning, friend and colleague Matt Sunshine shared an article from the Harvard Business Review blog that explains the position that retailer Target is taking on the practice.  Click here to see that story.

Implications:   The HBR blog post is very good… but I’m thinking the comments section that follow the story are even better, as consumers and business people alike suggest ways that Target might combat online competitors who sell for less (due to lower overhead). 

One suggestion that wasn’t made (until we made it) is blurring the line between a bricks-and-mortar and their online counterpart.  Why not have a set of business card-sized instructions—along with a QR code—that blatantly engages the consumer on the showrooming phenomenon:

“If you need some time to think it over, and you’re considering doing a little online research, please start your search with  When you enter this promotional code, you’ll get (discount, gift with purchase, free shipping, other incentive).” 

The promotional or QR code would help the company track where the product engagement began, and help them develop an even better bricks-and-mouse relationship.  Versions of the card (or code) could be handed-out by store salespeople, too… so that if the seller is helping drive online sales, they could be rewarded with cash or redeemable points of some kind.  As a retailer, Target should not care whether the purchase is made in-store or online… only that it is made with Target.

Could “showrooming” be impacting your business?  In what ways could you exploit the practice?  (Exploiting can be much more profitable than complaining.) 

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

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