Equipped with mobile devices, consumers now have the power to search for and find the best deals. Retailers received a shock back in 2011 when they began to notice consumers entering their brick-and-mortar stores to view products, only to then purchase them for lower prices on their smartphone from competitors or other online retailers.

Showrooming reached new heights during the 2012 holiday season when many used price-comparison apps during their seasonal shopping. A poll conducted by Harrison Interactive found that 43% of American adults participated in showrooming during the 2012 holiday season. Additionally, Edgell Knowledge Network found that 80% of retailers were affected by showrooming during this past holiday season.

The hustle and bustle of the holidays is over, but the marketplace buzz of showrooming continues.

Until now, many marketers perceived showrooming as a business and marketing challenge; a new consumer behavior that’s negatively impacting their bottom line. But what if they’ve got it wrong? What if rather than fighting this phenomenon, retailers need to embrace it and work to better enable the overall customer buying experience?

Today’s consumers are price conscious all year round. Combined with the ease at which consumers can now search for better deals online and on smartphones, it’s easy to understand why showrooming has become a popular shopping and savings tactic.

From the consumer perspective, there are many benefits to showrooming including more choices and the ability to control pricing. Showrooming also offers shoppers the best of both worlds: in-store experience while being able to leverage the most common advantages of online shopping, such as free shipping.

There are benefits for retailers, too, such as the power of multichannel retail and the ability to serve consumers in new ways. Showrooming can enhance customer service by allowing in-store shoppers to click-to-buy, turning the mobile device into the POS and eliminating check out. Furthermore, incorporating showrooming into the in-store shopping experience can decrease inventory and overhead costs.

Loyalty data can help marketers leverage the benefits of showrooming and transform it into an opportunity.

Extending consumer data to retail locations and making it accessible across channels will allow marketers to identify their customers regardless of where they make their purchase. Marketers should continue to create an online experience in physical stores by bringing technology front and center. Retail stores should also offer free shipping and the ability to easily search for products in other store locations, mirroring the online shopping experience.

Showrooming will surely continue, but marketers have the ability to change how it impacts their sales. By embracing showrooming and taking advantage of the benefits, retailer collaboration will increase and real-time, multichannel offers will grow. With the help of loyalty data, showrooming can migrate from a threat to an effective marketing strategy.

 

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