Today?s Customers May Not Be As Bad As Retailers Thought

Retail Stores and Their CustomersBack in 2013 we discussed how retailers were having trouble with the evolving shopper activity called showrooming. Showrooming is where customers visit stores to examine and even sample products only to leave the store without buying anything. Instead, they access the Internet to purchase the product they experienced in the store with the purchase often being through a different retailer than the one they visited.

Even back in 2010 we noted how retailers were concerned with how shopping practices were evolving thanks to new technologies. In particular, retailers sensed they were losing sales as they observed consumers pulling out cellphones while still in the store only to see them head for the exit. The assumption then was that the cellphone served as a price comparison tool and, despite any assistant provided by the retailer, the cellphone wielding customer was only concerned about price.

Well, it now appears retailers’ fear of significant lost sales due to showrooming may not be as bad as previously thought. As discussed in this Washington Post story, the results of a large-scale study conducted by Nielsen supports retailers’ contention that many customers do follow the showrooming practice. However, the research also indicates that a large number of customers do the opposite as they first search for products on Internet retail sites only to make the purchase at a physical store. This practice, which some are calling “Web-rooming,” has led retailers to respond with several services including the order-online-but-pickup-at-store option. The Web-rooming practice was also supported by research undertaken by Accenture.

The message from these reports is that retailers must accept that the world is changing and so too are consumers’ shopping methods. The message to retailers is that in order to maintain a handle on how shoppers’ practices are changing, retailers must frequently talk with their customers and find out what they want. They also must throw out old retail habits and adapt to what consumers really seek in their retail experience.

Image by Charles16e