Three Ways to Battle Showrooming

I love it when a new phenomenon comes around that give marketers something to worry about and to debate. I’m sure you have heard of showrooming. Even if you haven’t heard the term, you’ve probably done it.

Showrooming is when you are standing in Target, considering buying an Ipad andThree Ways to Battle Showrooming image kelly creditcardsbig spender kelly you pull out your smart phone and look up the pricing of the same product on Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart. Chances are, you’ll find it for a little cheaper, which then leaves you to decide if you head to the Target check-out with just the red velvet cookies, the $9 polka-dot push-up bra, and three plastic chairs for your patio, or if you add the Ipad to your not-as-random-as-it-seems collection of purchases. As you can imagine, Target, and other big retailers, are spending a lot of money, energy, and brain power to come up with ways to push your decision in their favor.

The battles around showrooming are in full swing. Amazon has offered permanent price-matching, so has Target. So at least they have neutralized each other. There are also apps that recognize when you are in a store like Best Buy and they can immediately offer you a coupon if you buy today. From a non-tech point of view, exclusive product like Target’s designer appliances, bikes, and bedding also battle that option of looking at competitors and leaving with only a $.99 bag of popcorn.

It makes sense that big retailers would first focus on themselves, their products, and their competitors, those are concrete concepts that are easily spit-balled in conference rooms. But I gotta say, what about me? Isn’t it all about me? I am the customer after all. If you want me to pledge my loyalty and devote all my dollars to you, then I need to be wooed. I need to know that you see me as individual and that you care about my point of view. Here are three things that big retailers should be doing to increase loyalty.

1. Remember my tastes

There are “push” and “pull” versions of this and retailers should be doing both.

Three Ways to Battle Showrooming image salestagssalestagsLowes has launched a “pull” version where they tell customers to keep track of everything they bought on the Lowes site, then next year when you want more of the same daffodil bulbs, you are more likely to buy them from Lowes because you’ll go look them up. By just tracking your in-store or on-line purchases with your phone number you have a great history of everything you’ve purchased. Last weekend I bought 5 strings of “everyday” string lights from Target and installed them on my covered patio. So next year when I need two more strings, I’ll start the shopping process all over again, looking at Amazon, at Home Depot, and at Target and hope to match them up because I won’t remember. If Target gave me a way to remember, I wouldn’t even bother to look anywhere else. I’d just buy straight from them. Lowes has got it going on with their MyLowes campaign. It isn’t enough for me to start shopping there, I don’t really see it driving new customers, but loyal customers and halting some showrooming—definitely.

Amazon does the “push” version of remembering my tastes in the worst way I’ve ever seen. Their emails have become a joke among the geeky marketer set. I once bought a Tag Hauer watch from them for an anniversary gift. Do you want to guess what the next three emails were that I received from them? Their genius reasoning was that if I bought one $2500 watch, I would undoubtedly want another one in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. It just wouldn’t take much for those emails to because really useful to me. What if they made a couple of basic assumptions: Mark the date that I bought the watch and 350 days later send me an email that suggests cigars, golf clubs, and men’s cashmere sweaters. Not that I would buy any of those, but it might get me to click through just because it was a well-timed email right before either my significant other’s birthday or my wedding anniversary. They could take it even one step farther and “push” and “pull” by offering me the option of filling in a bunch more information about my significant other and they could keep an eye out for new stuff coming in that he might like. All of a sudden they become a virtual personal shopper. I’d be loyal. I would. That would work on me.

2. Remember my dates

How many tiny retailers or super specialty shops have offered this? FTD.com has done it for years, but there literally isn’t a single person that I’m going to send a bouquet of flowers to (can you tell I don’t have a mother-in-law?). I know, this is soooo 2003, but I still think if a BIG retailer did it well, I’d use it. If Target sent me an email 10 days before Angela, Chelle, Jesse, or David’s birthday, I might click through and place an order, maybe not, but I might.

3. Ask questions, then remember the answers

I covered this a little under number one where I said they should push and pull, but let’s blow that idea up. Incent me to tell you about myself, then remember my answers. This is where SheerID swoops in with a red cape to save the day. Ask if I’m a student, a military member, a teacher, a small business owner, or affiliated with any group, then offer me an exclusive discount for that. SheerID will handle the hard stuff like verifying status and tracking that customer for the retailer. The retailer just needs to offer the discount or special offer and get the word to me, SheerID will protect it from getting posted, it stays personal which is what makes it Three Ways to Battle Showrooming image Kelly as Teacher transparentKelly as Teacher transparentwork. If I walked in to Joann’s Fabric and got a notification on my phone that I could take an extra 5% off today because I’m a teacher—sold! I wouldn’t check prices with their competitors. Or, use that big data for something other than a buzz word that impresses your boss in your quarterly report. Watch my purchases of consumables and reach out to me around the time I’m running out of paper towels and dryer sheets. Offer a discount for cosmetics or candy the next time I buy those dryer sheets to increase the number of items that I loyally buy from you.

See where this is all going? Take that same creative thinking that has you firing at your competitors and apply it to the characteristics and habits and loyalties of your customer. If you want to develop a long-term relationship with me, focus on me.

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