Friday, August 24, 2012

Q&A: Showrooming

Tinner asks:

How do you deal with people using your store as an showroom? How can you compete with their prices? I have had it suggested that the key to combating this is to offer an in store experience (aka in store gaming) that Amazon can not offer, thereby ensuring repeat business. Your thoughts?

May I direct you to the Amazon is the Devil post.....

I usually don't know when people are showrooming, but sometimes I suspect it. I'm usually wrong and a customer brings up a board game to buy or tome of an RPG book.  I'm much better at feeling out a potential shoplifter. Sometimes they come back later to do this, as they're using the Internet to research and they're overly cautious.We also have product information codes on boxes and sheets of product information codes you can scan to learn more about a product online. So there is some active online research we encourage in the store.

The general retail advice I've been given is good customer service discourages showrooming. You engage a customer, ask them if they need any help, and continue to check up on them over time. Real customers find this helpful, while I suspect show roomers find it a nuisance, and only those without a conscience will continue without feeling a little guilty.

If I openly observe show rooming, something that usually only happens with young shoppers who like to talk about who clever they are for discovering the Internet, I'll engage them openly (AKA confront them). I try to keep this civil, but I generally would rather they just go away, and I'm sure that comes through. Occasionally, it results in a guilt purchase, but I would again, rather they leave. I also tend to close up and withhold information if I feel people are showrooming, as in, I'm clearly not going to be your value add to your online purchase. I could see where this would make you jaded and more cautious to be helpful, which would be a bad trait for a sales person.

I don't understand the advantage of shopping a physical product in a box at a store rather than just reading online reviews. The price of products online is not what scares me, it's the level of helpful information that makes online shopping powerful. Use it to shop online and use it to buy in-store. I don't understand why you would need the tactile experience of touching a product, holding a product, checking its heft and then go home unsatisfied to wait days for it to arrive. My suspicion is these are the same people who are into BDSM. It's the only explanation that makes sense to me. No, I will not drip hot wax on the box, sir. And please stop calling me daddy. Firm, but polite, if you can muster it.

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