What Are the Effective Strategies for UK Retailers to Counter Showrooming?

April 18, 2024

Showrooming, a term that has gained popularity in the retail industry, refers to the practice of examining products in physical stores before purchasing them online, often at a lower price. This trend has been accelerated by the surge in online shopping and mobile device usage, affecting the profitability of physical retailers significantly. The battle between online and offline retail has become increasingly fierce, with physical stores striving to retain their customers and counter showrooming. Here are some effective strategies that UK retailers can adopt to win in this battle.

Embrace the Omni-Channel Approach

One of the most viable strategies to counter showrooming is to blend online and offline channels, creating an omni-channel retail experience. This approach is all about providing a seamless and consistent shopping experience across all channels – online, in-store, and mobile.

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As physical stores, you can leverage your online platforms to drive users to your store. For example, offer ‘buy online, pick up in store’ services. This not only encourages customers to visit your physical outlets, but also saves them shipping costs, making your products more price competitive.

Moreover, you could integrate your physical and online stores using technology. For instance, use mobile applications to provide product information, customer reviews, and price comparisons while customers shop at your store. This will enhance your customers’ shopping experience and reduce their need to showroom.

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Enhance In-Store Customer Experience

Another effective strategy to counter showrooming is to offer superior in-store experiences. After all, the one thing online retailers cannot provide is the tactile and personal experience physical stores offer.

As physical retailers, you can create engaging, interactive, and personalised shopping experiences. Provide knowledgeable and helpful staff, organise product demonstrations or workshops, offer personal shopping assistance or advice, and create a comfortable shopping environment.

Also, consider offering unique, in-store only products or promotions. This will not only draw customers into your stores but also provide them with something they cannot find online, discouraging showrooming.

Leverage Price Matching and Loyalty Programs

Price is one of the main reasons customers resort to showrooming. Therefore, implementing price matching policies can be an effective strategy to retain customers. If you match the prices of products found cheaper online, customers would have less incentive to showroom.

At the same time, develop robust loyalty programs to incentivise repeat purchases and customer loyalty. Offer rewards, discounts, or exclusive deals to loyalty program members. This not only encourages customers to buy from you rather than online competitors but also fosters stronger customer relationships and loyalty.

Improve Inventory Management

Effective inventory management is also crucial in countering showrooming. Customers often resort to online shopping when products are out of stock in physical stores.

Using technology, you can optimise your inventory management. Implement systems that provide real-time inventory information, ensuring that popular products are always in stock. This approach reduces the chance of customers resorting to online shopping due to unavailability of products in your store.

Utilise Data Analytics

Lastly, harness the power of data analytics. Understand your customers’ shopping behaviour, preferences, and needs through data analysis. This will allow you to tailor your products, services, and experiences to meet your customers’ specific needs and wants.

For instance, use data analytics to identify the products most susceptible to showrooming. Then, develop strategies specifically for these products, such as price matching, offering in-store only deals, or enhancing product information and services in your store.

Retailers need not view showrooming as a threat. Instead, consider it as an opportunity to better understand your customers and improve your offerings. By adopting these effective strategies, you can counter showrooming, enhance your customers’ shopping experiences, and ultimately, thrive in today’s competitive retail landscape.

Prioritize Social Media Engagement

The rise of social media has created a new frontier for retailers to interact with their customers. Not only can social media platforms improve a brand’s visibility, but they also offer a platform for businesses to better understand their customers’ wants and needs. As such, prioritising social media engagement can be a crucial strategy for UK retailers looking to combat showrooming.

Engagement on social media can take many forms. For one, retailers can use these platforms to share information about their products and services, including new arrivals, special offers, and sales. This can help keep customers up-to-date on what is available in-store and reduce the need for them to showroom.

Furthermore, social media allows businesses to provide real-time responses to customer queries. This rapid communication can help instill a sense of trust and reliability, further encouraging customers to shop in physical stores. Retailers can also use social media to encourage user-generated content, such as reviews or photos of products in use. This establishes a sense of community and helps potential customers visualize the benefits of purchasing in-store rather than online.

Additionally, location-based social media advertising can help drive footfall to brick and mortar stores. By targeting ads to users in close proximity to their physical stores, retailers can incentivize in-store visits and purchases, reducing showrooming behaviour.

Implement Webrooming Strategies

While showrooming has been a challenge for brick and mortar stores, the concept of webrooming – where customers research products online before purchasing them in-store – can be leveraged as a strategy to counter the former. This practice has been gaining traction as an opposing force to showrooming, making it a potential game-changer in the retail industry.

Retailers can encourage webrooming by providing detailed and accurate product information on their websites and mobile applications. This can include product specifications, user reviews, and even demonstration videos. When customers are able to research and decide on their purchases online, they are more likely to then visit the physical store to make the purchase, thus reducing the likelihood of showrooming.

Furthermore, retailers can use their online platforms to offer exclusive in-store deals or coupons. This not only incentivizes customers to visit the physical store but also gives them a reason to make the purchase on the spot, instead of going back online to find a better deal.

In addition, retailers can use their websites and mobile applications to provide a store locator feature, making it easier for customers to find their nearest physical store. They can also provide real-time inventory information, so customers know if their desired product is available in-store.

Conclusion

Showrooming is undoubtedly a challenge that UK retailers are grappling with in today’s digital age. However, by adopting strategic measures such as enhancing in-store experiences, leveraging price matching and loyalty programs, improving inventory management, and utilising data analytics, retailers can turn this challenge into an opportunity.

Moreover, by prioritizing social media engagement and implementing webrooming strategies, retailers can better connect with their customers and encourage more in-store purchases. Not only do these strategies help in countering showrooming, but they also pave the way for retailers to thrive in the evolving retail landscape.

In the end, the goal for retailers should not be to eliminate online shopping or mobile device usage, but rather to effectively integrate these elements into the overall shopping experience. By doing so, they can offer a truly seamless and engaging shopping journey that respects and satisfies the modern customer’s expectations and shopping habits, thus ensuring their own survival and growth in the competitive retail industry.