Showrooming is the new term that terrifies retailers. We have all done it: We go into a shop to check out the new laptop, digital camera, or tablet, then pull out our smartphone, snap a picture of the bar code, and find the best price online.
After suffering showrooming for a few years, retailers want to turn it into an advantage.
A few years ago, people went to stores armed with a notebook, jotted down model numbers, and then went home to search online. Now, with camera-enabled smartphones and shopping apps, the online check takes only a few seconds. But the retailers are finding ways to fight back. Everyone in the retail market knows they are being showroomed, and now they may have the tools to profit from it.
When we visit an online shop, e.g., Amazon, the shop knows every click, every search, every product we check, and they can follow all of our shopping trends. In this way they can target offers to use every time we visit the site or email us special offers for the products we are looking for. Traditional retailers want that information as well.
Now a startup called Nearbuy Systems says it can provide retailers with that information using the in-store WiFi and existing video surveillance cameras. Combining those technologies, they can track customers using smartphones through the store. Their first product is "Guest WiFi," a simple solution that offers free WiFi to shoppers and is then able to analyze shopping patterns. According to the Website, "The Nearbuy solution helps you utilize your existing store WiFi infrastructure while simplifying and centralizing management tasks such as landing page creation and compliance tracking." Shoppers take advantage of the WiFi platform and the store collects valuable information.
Using video cameras, the store can also track customers' movements through the aisles, and using on-the-fly analytics, know exactly what the shopper is looking for.
Armed with that information, retailers can send discounts and coupons for those products to the connected smartphone, increasing the possibility of getting the sale. Also, employee location technology can direct specialized sales associates to customers, armed with the advantage of knowing what the customer is looking for.
Most people like the instant satisfaction of walking out of a store with the product they want, and they are willing to pay a premium price for it -- but not too much. Knowing what the shoppers are looking for, and the competing online price, can give retailers the opportunity to get close to the price point and win the sale before the customers walk out of the store.
There are privacy concerns, but the convenience of in-store WiFi and special Websites that help shoppers navigate the store makes it appealing to customers to accept the privacy agreements. And many consumers will probably welcome the special offers during their visit. Maybe showrooming won't be so bad for stores after all.