Find the Opportunity in Showrooming

Showrooming is a word that many dealers know and despise—but it also presents an opportunity. The act of showrooming involves consumers checking out a product in-store, kicking the tires and chatting up a knowledgeable salesperson, only to ultimately leave and purchase the product online or elsewhere. It results in lost time and a lost sale for the dealer. There are things that dealers can do to win those sales and view showrooming as an opportunity instead of a threat.

“In the rapidly evolving landscape of retail technology, consumers are choosing how, when and which channel to do their purchasing,” says Ken Levy, CEO of 4-Tell, provider of integrated products that allow merchants to deliver individually personalized product recommendations to shoppers across the internet, email, mobile and in-store. “Dealers need to be able to engage consumers no matter how or where they like to shop. In an age where many shoppers routinely use two or more technologies to research a purchase, the message is clear: If you don’t adapt and offer them the ability to connect with you both on and offline, they will take their business elsewhere.”

Embrace the technology

With customers consulting various channels for product information, it is not enough for the dealer to just have a brick-and-mortar store and a bare-bones website. You have to be sure you are not only out there to be found, but offer a wealth of product and service information.

“Every dealership today that wants to be in business in the future has to get more focused on their online presence,” says Bob Clements, president of Bob Clements International, a consulting firm that specializes in the development of high-performance dealerships. “Too many dealers think that the internet is their enemy, and it’s not. People today use the internet to inform themselves as to what options and pricing are available.” 

Having a web and app presence could not only help you to lock in that customer who is in your dealership, but also attract customers who are showrooming at another store. Mobile should become a key element in every dealer’s multichannel strategy.

“If the showrooming shopper is on a research trip to examine the product, then the app or mobile site for the retailer can either push to make the sale or make it easier for the person to research and buy from that brand’s dot-com later,” says Levy. “The ideal retail app will be situational, either detecting when and where the person is or having multiple modes. The new path to purchase has a real physical, situational dimension to it and needs to be inherent in the app.”

It is important that dealers not only make sure they are making themselves available across multiple platforms to customers, but that they use that technology to better outfit their sales staff with tools to connect customers with their products. Just as the shopping experience has changed, so should the selling style.

One way to combat the rising phenomenon of showrooming is to arm the sales staff with the right technology within the store,” advises Levy. “There are a variety of options available, from iPads and smartphones to digital reader displays. The goal is enhancing the shopping experience by enabling your staff to better assist customers to locate items and give accurate, up-to-date product information, including inventory status, promotions, and recommendations for other products. If done right, on-the-spot product recommendations can help your front-line staff cross-sell and up-sell.”

Customer service always wins

As you probably hear often, customer service is what sets a dealer apart. So once you have an online presence, you need to continue to back that up with the promise of stellar customer service before, during and after the sale.

“If I walk into a dealership and look at equipment, I am there wanting to do business with that dealership,” says Clements. “If I end up talking to a person who knows less than I do, I’m done. On the other hand, if I come in contact with a salesperson who asks good questions and leads me to consider equipment other than what I had come in to look at because they feel like it would be a better fit for my needs, now they have me as a customer.”

Communicating with the customer about the services you provide and their individual needs will help you to gain their trust and confidence. Knowing they are making the wisest choice with their money is what will influence a customer to make a purchase—and return for future purchases.

“Focus the time with the shopper on not only the equipment, but help them understand that everything that is mechanical will break and the most important part of buying equipment is finding a dealership that excels in delivering exceptional service,” says Clements. “Remember, only about 15% of the people who are shopping are looking for a low price, and 85% will pay more if you can show them you are worth more.”

Marrying your quality customer service with an app and/or mobile-friendly website that helps customers to research your products and services is what will help you to cash in on the showrooming customer. Take advantage of the opportunity to engage the customers who shop by app or online by offering them special incentives to use your app and buy from you.

“Dealers have to stop pretending that the smartphone and web don’t exist. Embrace it because you won’t keep people from showrooming, so ensure they can showroom with you,” says Levy. “Take ownership of the mobile shoppers in your current stores. Create an app experience specific to in-store shopping, and promote it in the store. Showrooming is an opportunity, not a problem. Once you accept that it is not going away, you start to see the many ways it can benefit your brand.”