Large-scale retailers are fighting back against ‘showrooming’ by changing their stores into extensions of their eCommerce operations. In recent times, consumers have realised that they can carry out product research in stores and then buy it at a cheaper price online. By carrying out competitor price monitoring in stores, they gather pricing intelligence before making the final purchasing decision. Major US retailers are now reacting to this trend by turning their stores into extensions of their web business.
Best Buy, Sears, Macy’s and Walmart are just some of the multichannel retailers to engage in this business strategy. The retailers are offering payment kiosks, Web return locations, collection depots and free shipping points to combat showrooming. Some are even offering drive-through customer service points for online customers.
A key advantage for retailers allowing shoppers to buy online and pay in-store is that they are able to target customers who prefer to pay for products with cash. Walmart started an ‘order online, pay in-store in cash’ service to customers in April. This service certainly appeals to shoppers who don’t have bank accounts or credit cards.
“You can either fight these trends that are happening — showrooming is one — or you can embrace them,” said Joel Anderson, CEO of Walmart.com. “We have a lot of assets, but they’re only assets if you embrace the trends of the customers.” According to Anderson, more than half of the orders made on Walmart.com are now picked up at Walmart stores.
Apple, Best Buy and Nordstrom are also allowing customers to order goods online and collect them within 24 hours at a selected location. Shoppers save on shipping costs and it works well especially well for bulky items that don’t have free shipping.
Last year, Nordstrom added a new online service where customers to search a store’s stock. Macy’s now has 202 branches that can send items to online shoppers, it will grow these numbers to 292 by the end of 2012.
So how will pure-play online retailers react to these developments? It is expected they will start to open their own physical stores. Rumours are already circulating that Amazon is preparing to open its own bookstore in Seattle, Washington.
With businesses adopting such creative strategies to combat showrooming, it can only mean good news for the consumer.
Pricing intelligence company Profitero works with retailers and manufacturers to help them increase sales and maximise their profits by using competitor price, promotions and stock information at scale. For more information on Profitero price intelligence and competitor monitoring, visit www.profitero.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.