Thursday, November 8, 2012

Holiday Retailing 2012: The Challenge of Showrooming

What does the trend toward showrooming mean for stores and online retailers this holiday season? Showrooming occurs when shoppers examine products in a nearby store but then buy from an online merchant (using a mobile phone or their tablet or personal computer). So many shoppers have smartphones in hand when they visit stores that retailers should expect showrooming to be a way of life from now on.

Remember last December, when Amazon's promotion of its price check app angered store competitors? The company not only encouraged consumers to compare prices when they were at the mall, it also offered a discount for ordering the item from Amazon instead of buying in the store.

Here's how retailers are gearing up for the showrooming challenge in 2012.
  • Target and Best Buy have already announced they will match the prices of online rivals during certain periods. 
  • Some stores are equipping employees with tablets or other devices to help shoppers compare products, understand features, check inventory, and even place orders for same-day pickup (in the store, of course). 
  • To combat showrooming, a number of retailers are offering exclusive merchandise assortments and improving in-store service.
One final consumer behavior point in favor of store shopping is that once a buyer stands in front of a merchandise display and makes a buying decision, he or she may put a higher value on being able to take the product home right away instead of paying less but having to wait a day or two for an online order to be delivered.

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