Showrooming 2.0: Turning Risk Into Reward

February 23, 2018

Retail TouchPoints | February 23, 2018 – “Will ‘showrooming’ kill businesses?” That was the headline five years ago as an increasing number of shoppers began visiting brick-and-mortar stores to try out products before ultimately purchasing them online. Back then, the ability to price shop in person but buy online was a real concern for brick-and-mortar stores. But as a growing number of traditional retailers are proving, not only will showrooming not be their death, it may well be the answer to innovation — and profit.

Today’s version of showrooming isn’t just about viewing products in the store and then buying them online. Instead, it’s more about showcasing merchandise in a different way that offers shoppers the chance to truly experience the product.

In some cases, such as Samsung 837 in New York City or Nordstrom Local in Los Angeles, retailers may choose to build showrooms that hold no actual inventory. Retailers don’t need to go to this extreme to reap the benefits of providing a showroom-like experience.

Physical retail is becoming much more about creating a destination for shoppers to discover and interact with products. That’s something that any retailer can do. Obviously in grocery retail, you can’t just have product to look at and not buy. Rather, in these instances, the showroom concept could still play out as meal solutions, chef tables, food expos or opportunities to create your own samples.

In fact, grocery retailers may be in one of the best positions to quickly tap into the showrooming trend. As a grocery retailer, you already have all of the ingredients you need right in your store to suit your shoppers’ needs. Once you have a clear understanding of who your target audience is and what types of experiences they’re seeking, you can literally reconfigure what you have to meet those expectations.

For example, a grocery store in a more affluent, urban area might consider bringing in a sommelier to circulate the wine department and offer pairing ideas, while a store in a more suburban area that caters to busy families might showcase 15-minute meal solutions every evening from 4 to 6 p.m.

There’s no other way physical retail will continue to be relevant unless it provides the experiences that people are craving. Experiential marketing events like pop-up shops or mobile tours can be an ideal way for retailers to test out possible solutions before making the full investment in moving forward. As a retailer, you may have different audiences with different needs. A series of events can help you test out different ideas to see which ones resonate best with shoppers and deliver the best return.

Ultimately, this focus on experience won’t be just a differentiator, but the key to survival. Consumers wonder, “If I can buy basic commodities online, what is the purpose of going out to the store?” It has to be about the experience. Within the next five to 10 years, this will become the norm. There’s no other way physical retail will continue to be relevant unless it provides the experiences that people are craving.

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