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How Can Savvy Retailers Embrace Showrooming with Omni-Channel Retailing?

Couple looking at items in the store before buying them online

The reasons behind showrooming — a practice when customers review products in-store before purchasing them online — illustrate that retailers must embrace an omni-channel concept to avoid losing out on profits and customers.

According to the Harris Interactive QuickQuery Poll cited in an article on the Practical Ecommerce website, price remains a key factor in a customer’s decision to purchase online. In fact, 96 percent of shoppers say price is “at least somewhat important” and about 82 percent say price is “very important or extremely important.”

An omni-channel retailer doesn’t care whether the customer buys from the brick-and-mortar store or the e-commerce site. But prices should be the same regardless of where the customer makes a purchase; the same TV set should cost $399 at the store and online, for example. Furthermore, if the e-commerce site offers free shipping, the customer should be able to purchase at the store and have the product delivered for free.

Positive customer service is another approach that can steer customers away from shopping at a competitor’s store or e-commerce site. According to the poll, 70 percent of respondents say they would buy from a retailer based on a previous positive shopping experience, even if they could purchase the same product for less money elsewhere.

This illustrates the importance of an omni-channel retail concept providing a seamless approach to the consumer experience. In other words, if a customer orders online and wants the product today, that customer can pick it up at the store. And if a customer purchases a product in-store but wants it delivered, that customer should get that option just as if he or she bought online. For retailers, their motivation should be to sell products; they shouldn’t be concerned about where the products are sold. For many retailers, those are some pretty large mindsets to overcome.

In addition, an omni-channel retail concept allows for better tracking. For instance, imagine that an employee assists a customer on the sales floor. But because the product can’t be shipped from the store to the customer’s residence, the customer goes home and orders it online. Not only does the sales associate not receive commission, but the retailer isn’t able to track that an in-store visit prompted that sale. 

Again, whether the product came from the store’s inventory or the e-commerce site’s inventory should not matter. Omni-channel retailing eliminates those barriers.

Source: Practical Ecommerce, July 2013