As a growing number of UK consumers embrace the practice of showrooming, retailers are being challenged to improve the in-store customer experience to compete with less expensive online rivals.
A new survey from mobile network provider EE has found 44 per cent of UK shoppers now admit to ‘showrooming,’ the practice of viewing an item in-store then using a smartphone to buy the item online. According to the research, almost 20 million people now regularly visit physical stores with the direct intention of purchasing the same goods on the internet at a later date. What’s more, as the proportion of consumers exhibiting this behavior increases to 53 per cent for the 18 to 25 age bracket, evidence suggests this practice is likely to become more entrenched as the generations evolve.
In order to avoid losing out to this trend, retailers must learn more about the elements of the online customer experience that attract consumers and what they can do to offer a more comprehensive level of service in store.
Notably, the EE report found 77 per cent of the public felt online shopping gave them a wider selection of product choice, suggesting high street stores could do more to give customers access to a greater variety of products. Integrating tablet technology into the store format could be a vital way of achieving this, allowing customers to browse the online range without needing to increase space for stock in-store. This also provides customers with a platform to discover additional information about each product or to place orders for out of stock items, particularly for home delivery.
Similarly, there is also an opportunity for retailers to use the mobile channel to cater service more directly to each individual customer. By monitoring each consumer’s purchase and interaction history with the brand, a retailer can send out personalised offers to the customer’s phone as they enter the store, promoting loyalty.
Through these methods, retailers can enhance the convenience and relevance of their customer service, encouraging customers to purchase while in store instead of turning to online rivals.