museums&MORE Summer 2013
Showroom Shopping

Make it part of your sales strategy

The experience is everything,” retail experts Rich Kizer and Georganne Bender of “The Kizer & Bender Institute of Marketing Strategy” believe. And as any specialty retailer knows, creating a store experience is easier than it sounds. But what happens when your customer’s experience translates to them using your store as a “showroom” and shopping somewhere else?

Showrooming has increasingly become a popular retail term that makes most retailers shiver. Defined as when a consumer shops a store to gain product knowledge, but plans to purchase the product in another store, showrooming is seen in a variety of retail sectors.

Whether you are selling electronics, apparel, gifts or home goods, consumers nowadays recognize that there are many places for them to make their purchase, yet not every store gives them the same TLC they need to understand and learn about products.

As a result, they visit stores where they can gain trusted expertise and product support, but purchase their desired products online or from a retailer with a lower cost applied to the product. Naturally, retailers frown upon this type of behavior, yet many customers are big fans of this type of shopping.

Despite all the reasons someone should purchase in your unique store, the reality is showrooming is taking place every day. Specialty gift shop stores are no exceptions, despite their unique store locations and connections to experiences outside of their stores. So just how can you keep up with this growing trend from today’s consumer?

Encourage Immediate Satisfaction
There is nothing better than a great museum visit followed by the purchase of a fun item to remember the day. Or is there? If your customer thinks otherwise, encourage your team to emphasize the value in immediate satisfaction. Kids to adults alike appreciate the joy in getting something new that brings them instantaneous happiness. Lean on this as a selling strategy, training your staff to communicate the joy in a same day purchase.

Amazon.com may offer the same wall art you do, or a big box store might have a similar assortment of stuffed animals, but what they don’t have is the connection that your store does to an experience many of your consumers will have just had.

“People will choose to shop your store because of how you make them feel,” Kizer and Bender explain. “The goal is to make them feel cheated when they shop anywhere else.”

While making your customers feel cheated may not be your number one sales strategy, it also isn’t one to cross of your list. Aim to translate the connection of what your customers just experienced in your museum or hospital to your store, therefore increasing your chance of an immediate purchase versus a purchase made at a later date.

It never hurts to remind customers you are a not-for-profit store, as well, if this is applicable to your business. Signage can offer you a subtle yet clear delivery in this message, also supporting you in keeping customers from “cheating” on your retail store.

Reward In-Store Shopping
Even if you don’t have many repeat customers due to the nature of your store location or attached museum, you can still strive to reward customers for their purchases. Rewards offer a great way to entice consumers to buy now versus later, which also helps decrease your chance of being used as a showroom.

Whether you sell artifacts, novelty goods, fair trade items or locally made jewelry, show your appreciation for every purchase made with a reward in return. Ranging from a coupon to a future museum exhibit, a discount on parking, a complimentary ticket to an upcoming event or a percentage off their next purchase, rewards are proven to excite customers and help close sales.

To help support your reward strategy, invite vendors to offer products and incentives that may be given out as “free gifts with purchase”. Additionally, identify how your institution can support you in this objective. Finally, consider using marked down or old inventory as part of your reward strategy to help move unwanted or slow-moving merchandise and in return, gain more sales.

Strengthen Your Price Points
Price is often valued by perception alone. Consider how your highest priced items are merchandised in your store. Do they stand out or blend in among your other items? Identify your lowest priced items in your store. Do they stand out or blend in among your other items? To help limit showroom shopping, strengthen your inventory pricing. This doesn’t necessarily mean reducing price points, but instead encourages you to make sure your price points are perceived more positively.

Have you heard from your employees or seen firsthand that certain prices attached to certain products are considered too high? Why do you believe this is? Aim to alter the perception that your potential buyers have of your highest priced items, encouraging them to instead see value in that product for the price it’s identified for. Merchandising will play a big role in this, as will the general communication and presentation of the product presented by your sales team.

Remember that customers often make assumptions on a product based on price alone. You want their assumption to be a positive one – and one that will keep them in your store versus looking at their Smartphone for where else they may be able to find that same item.

Incorporating Mobile Technology
If you are catering to a 20- to 40-something crowd, incorporating mobile payment options into your store could help you stand up against showrooming. Additionally, other mobile technologies can help combat showrooming against all ages while also helping to keep dollars in your register.

Mobile wallets, e-commerce apps and more are becoming more and more popular with consumers, and trending even higher among young adults. Their advantage? They offer a one-click or incentivized buying option that also helps reduce showroom shopping. Customers who prefer using mobile payments typically make their buying decisions on who accepts mobile payments — plain and simple.

If mobile payments aren’t your thing, at least consider how mobile technology may help you fight showrooming. Technology can help you understand your customers better and in return, support them better. Retailers gain empowerment by gaining purchasing behavior from their store customers and react through future store buys and customer support. This does entail investing in a sophisticated software that collects customer data, yet this investment, which can often be affordable, can also help make showrooming a problem your store doesn’t have.

The Final Word
Showrooming may be a growing trend for consumers, but it’s a trend retailers can choose to battle head on. With a few simple additions to your sales strategies, by using some effective employee-customer communication and implementing technologies that keep up with modern times, your store can conquer showrooming to make it a thing of the past (or at least not of your store).

By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle, Special to Museums & More





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