A recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive illustrates the impact that so-called “showrooming,” or visiting a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online, is having on physical retailers. Over four in ten (43%) U.S. adults have showroomed, and the practice clearly affects some stores more than others. When showroomers are asked to name the online retailer they most frequently purchase from after visiting a brick and mortar store, Amazon (57%) is the dominant response; the online mega-retailer is mentioned by the majority of showroomers, at more than a 10:1 ratio over the next strongest mentions (eBay and Walmart, at 5% each). The primary explanation for this trend is price difference. In 2011, a Marketwatch report determined that Amazon’s prices were on average 11 percent lower than its offline competitors. Just this fall, price comparison browser toolbar InvisibleHand determined that 75 percent of the items available at Best Buy were priced cheaper on Amazon, by an average of 17 percent.
So how can small, independent retailers compete against big box stores and online? According to a panel of experts at National Retail Federation’s Retail’s Big Show 2013, the solution is to arm your retail associates with technology and the best training available.
During the “Showrooming: An Opportunity or a Threat?” session, experts explained the most powerful showrooming techniques and where technology will lead the phenomenon in the future. Retailers should look to increase mobile technology to boost the in-store experience so that consumers keep coming back.
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