Showrooming: 13 Reasons Brick-and-Mortar Retail Stores Are Susceptible

Man checking prices on his phone

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Showrooming occurs when customers at a brick-and-mortar store, after having physically touched, smelled, lifted, handled, and most importantly, priced your products in person, go online through their smartphones and comparison shop - most often to Amazon.

It's one of the risks I've addressed in my manifesto.

Showrooming to brick-and-mortar retailers is akin to stealing.

Whether customers do it in the privacy of a deserted aisle, in front of your best employee or in the parking lot walking back to their car, showrooming is causing a lot of executives a lot of worry.

Customers walking into your store no longer are “just looking”; they’re taking your hard-earned reputation, using all the beautiful displays, premium products, and employees to cancel out any suspicions they have before they buy online.

To shoppers, it's smart shopping.

To cellular companies, it is the reason they can sell the more expensive smartphones.

To Amazon, it's just business.

Once your customers go to Amazon, they’re hooked. Cosmetics? Groceries? Gourmet Coffees - even wine? Amazon will let them set up an auto-order for refills.

Once your customers purchase, Amazon does a swell job of showing them related items, meaning they have even fewer reasons to return to your brick-and-mortar store.

So, how does your store encourage customers to shop at Amazon or other online retailers?

13 Reasons Your Brick & Mortar Store Is Susceptible to Showrooming

  1. Your merchandise is stacked and displayed like everyone else’s. When the merchandise is seen as nothing special, online sites beckon.

  2. You don't have enough employees. When finding someone to answer your questions is tough, the customer’s smartphone is always ready for a quick Amazon price check.

  3. The employees you have take too much time with one customer. It's great to have technically proficient employees whose passion is knowing every nuance and who can regale the customer with story after story. Still, like a restaurant, your selling floor needs to turn customers regularly.

  4. The employees you have take too little time with customers. Employees who say, "It's over there," or "I'll get someone," might as well say, "Find it yourself." When there's no relationship, there's no loyalty to shop with your brick-and-mortar store.

  5. Your employees have no bond to your business. When your employees don't value making the sale as necessary for a profitable business, they are just as likely to let the customer walk.

  6. Your employees stay clustered around the registers "waiting." When customers feel like they are interrupting an employee clique, they will feel awkward.

  7. Your shopping experience is unremarkable. If a customer gets the silent treatment and only is talked to at the cash wrap, they don’t get a good feeling from their purchase.

  8. You let customers help themselves with self-service. If you designed the store for customers to help themselves, they will feel free to help themselves … with their smartphones.

  9. You don't respect your customers. When you don't respect the fact that customers go out of their way and spend their limited time getting to your brick-and-mortar store, you treat them with indifference. Indifference costs you sales.

  10. You think competing with Amazon means "matching prices." But by denying that your real costs exceed Amazon’s, you're just digging your debt deeper with every sale.

  11. You have an owner or stockholder who doesn't want to lose any business. They want you to offer any discount it takes to keep all customers. The best merchants know you must leave unprofitable customers to remain profitable.

  12. Shopper behaviors are changing. Since customers have been conditioned to know there’s always a sale somewhere, they will look for it online to avoid paying your price.

  13. Customers assume everything online is the same as yours. Unless your employee shows the value of the real thing in your store, customers might be misled to buy something online at a lower price that could be counterfeit, damaged or mismatched. If your employees aren’t trained to poke holes in online shopping habits, customers may purchase apples when they want oranges.

Unless you take the initiative to stop showrooming, you’ll be its victim.

Why? Amazon does so well, and many brick-and-mortar stores add no extra value to the shopping experience. It all just becomes price.

Customers walking into your brick-and-mortar store still want the warm feeling they get from shopping, from feeling the products, the ambiance of your store, and the warmth of your employees. That can't be had with a computer screen, mobile device, or virtual anything.

Customers may be shopping less, but when they decide to spend that money, they are more sensitive than ever to indifference from the retailer and their employees.

Amazon and other internet sites will continue to grow as stuck brick-and-mortar retailers refuse to look in the mirror and change.

You have the chance to make a powerful impression and disarm the smartphone in your customers' pockets, but it will take work to mitigate these thirteen reasons why your store is open to being showroomed, and your retail sales are increasingly challenged.