Thanks to smartphones, "showrooming" is on the rise, and it's not showing any signs of stopping. The practice is more widespread now than ever, with a 156 percent increase in showrooming from 2012, according to a survey conducted by Vibes.
Showrooming essentially occurs when prospective shoppers enter a brick-and-mortar retail store, use their mobile devices to check and compare prices, and then make their purchases elsewhere -- most commonly, online.
While instant price comparisons via smartphone may pay off for consumers, showrooming itself can be costly for small business owners. Here are some key findings from the new showrooming report, and some tips on what business owners can do:
Numbers From a Mobile World
According to Vibes' Mobile Consumer Report:
44 percent of consumers say they use their smartphones in-store for comparison shopping either "often," "most of the time," or "every time" they shop.
45 percent of those who "showroom" end up making their purchase(s) at Amazon.com, a competitor's website, or a competitor's physical store instead.
Shoppers are increasingly scanning in-store QR codes to learn more about the products they're thinking about buying. QR code scanning showed a 186 percent increase year-over-year, according to the survey.
79 percent of consumers are looking for incentives and coupons when signing up for mobile content.
Personalization and Other Incentives
The report suggests that personalization, incentives, and of course just lower prices are potential strategies that may convince your customers to stick around. Here are some ideas that you may want to consider:
Personalization. Make sure that your social media customer service team is making efforts to look into personalized mobile messages and targeted ads. Have them research demographics, scour social media for feedback on popular consumer opinions and complaints, and make use of those results.
Niche marketing. If your business sells a product or service that is unique, use this to your advantage: Highlight the fact that there's no other place in town like yours. Even if you don't have a particularly unique product, though, you can still carve out a niche for your business with good customer service.
Incentives. There's nothing better than a good deal or incentive to pursuade customers to purchase something on the spot. You may want to consider location-based apps like Foursquare, which allows you to sweeten a consumer's visit to your store with an incentive or special discount.