How can I use showrooming to my advantage?

Showrooming – where customers compare prices of goods on their smartphones as they shop – has hit the high street in the last couple of years and is causing problems for bricks-and-mortar retailers. While there is no magic solution, retailers should work with the trend rather than against it, says Ashley Friedlein, chief executive of digital marketing firm Econsultancy.

He says retailers need to be seen to help customers look up prices online, rather than trying to stop it. “If shoppers are using mobiles in store, it’s far better if they are using the retailers’ own mobile services. This can start by simply providing free wi-fi in store and prompting customers to use it when they enter,” he says.

He adds retailers should also advertise their mobile site or app in store.

The idea is to give customers fewer reasons to visit other retailers. “Reviews are powerful, so offer them through displays in store, or via mobile apps and Wi-Fi to reduce the ‘Amazon effect’,” Friedlein says.

Providing the best possible in-store experience is vital to combat showrooming, making staff training important. “Great customer service can give shoppers more incentive to keep coming back,” he adds.

Price matching online offers is not a viable long-term strategy for many retailers, he says, making it important to source exclusive products. “A combination of product exclusivity, convenience and loyalty will keep customers buying in store.”