Updated Statistics From e-marketer
Now this is not just about Furniture...It's about any retailer that sells anything!
My position on this is becoming increasingly obvious - all you have to do is count the pages they publish. I can go through a publication in 5 minutes, just like my local newspaper and find virtually nothing that is relevant to “my” situation. Today’s consumer is all about “me,” so deal with it.
Back in 2000, when I joined the industry as Ashley Furniture’s Chief Marketing Guy these magazines were the bible of the industry as to what was happening both in manufacturing and retail. BUT, that was when email and the internet were just taking hold and furniture retailers had a market penetration of 68% with FAX machines. ;-)
Yep, most industries were off to the races now because Y2K didn’t happen. (Some furniture retailers still don’t have emails or websites…go figure…and they wonder why business isn't very good?)
“Is Show Rooming becoming a problem for your business?”
Yep - they asked the question, but offered nothing relevant as to what it really is, why it is happening, how to address it, etc. BUT more importantly, they didn’t offer any ideas on HOW TO EMBRACE IT! It is NOT going away and it WILL become a fact of day to day shopping.
76,000,000 Baby Boomers of yesteryear
And they are all wired with:
106,700,000 smart phones
133,000,000 tablet devices
And they all are geared to shop, connect, socialize and more online.
Her solution was simple:
She removed all brand information, all showroom tags, bar codes everything that would allow someone to “shop it on-line. WOW, has anyone ever heard of GOOGLE? Specifically Google Images, or Google Goggles? All you have to do is snap a picture of the object, paste it into Google Images, or snap it with Google Goggles and guess what happens? The brand name, style, written content, where to shop for it and the price are immediately visible. So much for a tactic without a strategy, huh? Yep, I had a brain aneurysm
So, with that said, here’s what I would do if they came to my store:
I would have a sign that says “Show Rooming Welcome… Are You Feeling Lucky?” Why? Because if the consumer is only buying on price, there is ALWAYS a lower price and they will find it, and probably already have. Who wants that customer, for they will never be loyal and their "lifetime value" to you is is zero
Customers are in your store because they want and can touch it, see it, feel it and imagine it. So, 70% of the battle for the dollar is done - now close the deal. (And it probably isn’t about a few bucks).
I would create the Golden Rules on ‘How We Are Different’:
- I would offer a “no questions asked” 5 day return guarantee. Not a store credit, a refund. Build trust/confidence.
- Low price guarantee with stipulations that the price, model, etc are exact matches. (Once a customer knows this and has that confidence, they will develop confidence in your store.)
- I would have large flat screens in the store for consumers to “shop” your website uninterrupted, save it to a favorite file, email a friend and more. (More on the website later)
- Shop Local, stay local. I would talk about community, the people that work here, the schools, areas we support in “our community”.
My sales people would be professional, not pushy, well dressed, very educated and paid well. I would feel way more comfortable with a sales person that has been part of the team for years who makes their living here, than some part timer who is on a career hunt.
And a Lot More
BUT that’s when they are in your store.
You MUST Pre-Sell them because they've already shopped your 10 competitors....ON-LINE….probably in the last day or hour
I would have an awesome website loaded with an absolute ton of products and a lot of content that is descriptive and educational so they can be educated. I say a ton, because I would show everything that is on the floor, tag it as such, AND I would show every SKU I had as an “Open To Buy” to let the consumer know they can find what they are looking for HERE. Yep, that may equate to 3,000 or 4,000 items, but if you don’t show it, they will assume you don’t have it…and move on!
- I would price everything and be totally transparent. Don’t waste my time with playing phone tag or requesting information.
- I would tell them, on this awesome website, everything they need to know “About Us.” I would do it with passion and a commitment to old school values and I would “mean it.” I would show off my “loyal” staff and be really proud to do so. I’d also add some humor - a lot of humor. Remember, women gravitate to 3 things in advertising/marketing: Humor, Babies & Puppies
- I would have "blow out" items, priced at 30-35 points that can be purchased ONLY on-line. Flat packed, special container/truckload orders you've purchased; lamps, mirrors, accessories and more. A self service program, they like it, they buy it, they pick it up and assemble it. (Think Ikea)
- I would have an awesome Social Media Strategy whose goal is to drive traffic to that awesome website I mentioned. BUT my strategy would incorporate not just Facebook and Twitter, but inspirational blogs, How-To’s, fun contests…yep humor again…and more. Did you know that a great social strategy drives 16.5% more leads to your site? Doesn't sound like a lot, but if you’re getting 100 people a day – 16 from Social, that’s 5,840 people a year, and if you close 5% at an average ticket that’s $291,700.00 of “found money” (Check out our site for everything social for the facts: www.social4retail.com )
I would educate them with videos and “show them” why we are different. The investment you’ve made and continue to make to “Always be the best.” Another example is Ashley Furniture…(yep a plug to my old employer) because they reinvest everything they make to be “The Best Furniture Company” and that’s why they are $3.5 billion at wholesale, growing 7%-20% a year, while everyone else is trying to eke out a small profit. They focus on being the best and they prove it everyday.
I would help them understand, again with video, the reasons why items look the same, but may have a dramatic difference in price:
Why leather sofas are priced so differently. Real leather vs. Bonded leather, (which is a joke and to me and a fraud because it really isn’t leather) and why it’s $399.00 because it’s actually vinyl! Why this other leather sofa is $899.00 and this one, Top Grain, is $1,999.00. Educate your consumer with tons of “relevant content.” They will look to you as an expert and trust will eventually develop. Plus your average ticket will increase!
Why is this fabric sofa $499.00, but that one on the floor with a different cover, same look, is $799.00 or $899.00? If they are buying a life-style for a life-stage and they plan to replace it, $499.00 is better. If it’s me, I want something that will last, not fall apart with heavy use, etc…Tell them why! Why do you think Ikea does so well? Cheap stuff, and usually for first time buyers. I don’t know anyone over 35 that has an Ikea sofa in their family room, do you?
What is wood? MDF vs. solid. Pine vs. Poplar vs. Cherry, etc.
Mattresses – How they’re made, why this vs. that and more. Most of the mattress companies are finally starting to get really good at this and it’s obvious because this category accounts for a huge amount of sales on the floor today.
Ok, so much for the lecture. I could write on this subject for hours.
The bottom line is:
Show Rooming is here to stay and it will become a lot easier tomorrow…especially now that Amazon is getting in the game. They bought a furniture URL/Company and knowing them, they are perfecting the model and getting ready to take even more of your business. National Shippers are in business because “local retailers” did not adapt to the changing dynamics of the consumer: “How they shop, where they shop and when they shop.”
Irrelevance will only happen if you refuse to embrace change and make it work for you “individually.”
“The ability to learn and adapt faster than your competitor may be your only sustainable competitive advantage”
The furniture industry, especially those that report about the industry, should not just report news…but should report “News You Can Use.”
They too must adapt, or become Irrelevant - as their diminishing page counts prove!
Don’t become irrelevant, please!
Brick-and-Mortars Take on Showrooming
AUGUST 15, 2012
Read more at
Shoppers armed with smartphones have become a major challenge for some brick-and-mortar retailers, according to a new eMarketer report, “Adapting to a Showrooming World: How Retailers Are Earning Customer Loyalty.” In 2011, InsightExpress found that more than one-half of smartphone owners said they had used their device for “showrooming”—looking at an item in a store before buying it online from a competitor at a lower price.
But there is hope and opportunity for retailers who reduce the risk of showrooming by making their websites more helpful to consumers doing online research prior to visiting a store. An October 2011 survey by the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group found that nearly six in 10 US cross-channel shoppers began their shopping journey online before going to a store to make a purchase. Cisco noted that online research is most useful in the early phase—awareness and research—of the purchase funnel.
Retailers that use showrooming behaviors to their own advantage reason that mobile consumers are a fact of life now. Failing to cater to them will only create more challenges down the line.
Showrooming Is a Mixed Bag for Stores
Vibes’ survey found that showrooming was a decidedly mixed development for brick-and-mortar retailers. About three in 10 showrooming customers later made a purchase from the website of the store they had visited, while one-quarter bought the item they sought from a competitor.
In order to keep showrooming customers happy, retailers need to embrace a “more is better” philosophy, providing shoppers will all of the information they could need or want about products as well as prices. And then they should ensure that all of that information is consistent across all channels, and readily available to customers no matter if they’re browsing the web, or browsing the aisles.