Five Ways Retailers Can Use Social Media to Combat Showrooming

Consumers are changing the way they shop – this fact is not news to any of us. But to what extent are the latest consumer habits impacting retail revenue?

McKinsey iConsumer Research reports 44 percent of shoppers use their mobile phones when shopping. ‘Showrooming’ in the retail environment is not going away anytime soon. Rather than trying to push against this wave, retailers need to embrace the latest trend and use it to establish an improved shopping experience for customers.

What Is Showrooming?

Showrooming has been defined in numerous ways. Essentially, it refers to the act of browsing products in a brick and mortar, but making the actual purchase online.

The term is also used somewhat more loosely to describe the act of using mobiles to compare prices or check reviews and product details when in store, even when not necessarily choosing to purchase online instead.

Retailers’ Perception of Showrooming

According to a global survey carried out by Econsultancy in July and August 2013:

“Although 67% of companies acknowledge that the number of customers using smartphones in-store is increasing, only 11% believe that showrooming poses a threat to their business.”

It appears retailers are trying to be proactive here. They understand the need to make mobile marketing integral to in-store commercial activity. BuyDesire’s Co-Founder Denique Ogilvie elaborates:

“Commerce, from the client side, is about choice, which makes it about information. It’s also about opinions and shared experiences. Weaving technology into the traditional retail landscape brings fun, relevant information to the consumer, where and when they want it.” 

Marketers Must Combine Social with Mobile

Findings from the Econsultancy report also note that marketers will be “taking significant steps to improve their mobile offering across their customer service.” But there’s also a clear need to connect mobile convenience with in-store incentive. We believe social media is the missing link.

Here are five ways you can optimize your social channels to attract mobile customers and lure them in store:

1.    Offer coupons on social media for discounts in store.
There are a number of apps you can use on Facebook to entice customers to visit your brick and mortar. Offer a coupon to your fans that they can print off and use when purchasing in store. Provide rewards for customers to collect.

2.    Promote price-matching options.
Your customers are going to be price matching anyway, why not make it easier on them? Offer a price-matching system, and promote it over social media.

3.    Beat competitors in customer service.
Outstanding customer service always wins. Give your customers what they want – a brand they can trust and connect with. Develop customer relationships over social media, and give fans and followers a reason to want to buy from you. After all, how does the saying go again? “If you build [brand loyalty], they will come.”

4. Offer unique products to your customer base.
Engage with your customers over social media platforms to find out their needs and preferences, and then try to tailor your product or service to these demands. Even a slight adjustment can go a long way if it makes your customers feel like they are being heard.

5. Connect locally.
Reach out to local blogs and review sites and offer targeted promotions they can use to spread the word and get new customers into your store.

With Black Friday quickly approaching, there is more reason than ever to improve the shopping experience for your customers in order to keep them close to home.

After all, if you can’t beat ‘em, you’ll have to find a way to join ‘em.

About Sharad Verma

Sharad is the co-founder and CEO of Bright Blue Wave, a social media content agency focused on small and medium-sized businesses. He has 20 years experience in business, marketing and customer strategy development and implementation.