Retailers are fighting a losing battle against showrooming — or customers using smartphones to price compare with competitors while shopping in their store — so perhaps they should stop fighting it, embrace it and make it work for them?
Using digital signage, interactive kiosks and a consistent omnichannel approach, retailers can still win in the brick-and-mortar store, according to Scott McGillivray, chief strategy officer for retail and customer experience management solutions provider iQmetrix.
During a Digital Signage Expo educational seminar called "Embracing 'Showrooming' Through Interactive Retail" McGillivray provided a blueprint that he said will help minimize losses to showrooming and take advantage of survey data showing that 76 percent of shoppers' preferred purchase channel is still in-store.
The key points, according to McGillivray, are simple:
1. Embrace omnichannel.
2. Bring the best of online shopping into the store.
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3. Implement innovative in-store technologies.
4. Empower in-store personnel.
Touching on the last one to start, McGillivray said, "Your people in the store are the ones who can create that relationship with your customers," and that leads to loyalty and an ongoing relationship between brand and customer.
Embracing omnichannel essentially means creating a seamless experience across all store channels and touchpoints, making the Web, mobile and in-store experience congruent for shoppers, he said.
Retailers can bring the online experience in-store by providing shoppers with interactive self-service kiosks or digital signage touchscreens where they can access product details, compare features and see consumer-written product reviews.
Innovative in-store technologies can help shoppers engage with brands and create a great, enjoyable shopping experience that leads them to both return to the store and to act as brand ambassadors through social media, leading to more visits from their peers.
That kind of technology also can empower the retail staff and can be used as a powerful sales tool by employees, he said. Some retail studies suggest that a face-to-face customer approach can stimulate a fight-or-flight response and feel confrontational, he said. But a should-to-shoulder approach — say as both are looking at a digital signage display — can feel collaborative, like the staff is helping the customer buy, rather than trying to sell them something.
Seminar speaker Dean Leja, CCO of the seven-store Cellular and More chain of wireless stores in Michigan, recently deployed in-store interactive digital signage to make his stores better reflect the high-tech smartphones and mobile devices they sell. And the one-store pilot was so successful, he said, that the chain already is planning to expand the roll out to all its locations.
Using 42-inch touchscreen displays and table-mounted iPad displays, the pilot store in Cascade, Mich., from December to February significantly outperformed the chain's flagship location in Lansing, Mich., according to Leja.
The technology reduces perceived wait times, increases engagement throughout the sales process and empowers customers to make quicker, better informed decisions, as well as empowering the sales staff and increasing their confidence, he said.
Another of the key results from deploying in-store interactive technology seen by iQmetrix, in addition to increased profit margins, McGillivray said, was a dramatic reduction in customers leaving the store without buying.
"One of the biggest things we saw ... was the reduction of walkouts," he said.
Learn more about digital signage in retail.