Mobile marketing series: Tips for brands looking to turn the ‘threat’ of showrooming into an opportunity

By Katie McQuater | Magazine Editor

November 5, 2013 | 8 min read

In a series of Q&As, The Drum speaks to leading mobile industry insiders to get their views on the big issues driving the space.

As part of The Drum’s latest mobile supplement, due to be published this Friday, 8 November, we are publishing a series of articles exploring the big issues in mobile marketing.In today’s article, members of the mobile marketing industry share their advice for brands and marketers looking to create opportunities from the consumer trend of showrooming.What’s your advice for brands looking to turn the ‘threat’ of showrooming into an opportunity?Simon Hathaway, president, shopper marketing and retail operations, Cheil WorldwideLet’s be clear: showrooming is not a threat for everyone, just for those retailers who do not have a cross-channel strategy. It is no longer about clicks and bricks, stores or e-commerce – it is just about commerce. The brands and retailers that transform to meet their shoppers’ expectation of retail – those that understand it must be everywhere, instant and personal, and that embrace the fact the shopping experience is being transformed by mobile, to deliver a seamless experience across search, shop and social – these are the retailers that will win in the long-term.James Connelly, co-founder and managing director, FetchCustomers want to have choices and this is a prerogative and freedom that is further enhanced by mobile showrooming. Rather than seeing showrooming as a new threat, retailers should recognise that the challenges remain the same – we want customers to shop with us rather than with a competitor. Why do customers decide to shop with a competitor? Because they offer better value and better shopping experiences. Therefore, retailers should focus on providing the best possible shopping experience in-store, on mobile and online – provide in-store Wi-Fi access and nail both m-commerce and e-commerce experiences. Above all, ensure your cross-channel offerings are seamless to enable convenient and easy shopping for your customers. If they are in your store, then you already have the upper hand. Give them reason and ease of access to purchase your products over mobile or online, rather than with another competitor altogether. Showrooming does not need to mean zero-sum game for retailers; it can be an opportunity to have multiple points of sale anytime, anywhere.Paul Coggins, VP mobile, EbuzzingIf brands want to turn showrooming into an opportunity they need to make sure their online shopping experience is just as, if not more, attractive as the offline. Last Christmas John Lewis managed to up its online sales by 44 per cent after streamlining its online offering. As long as brands remember the purchase funnel, from the moment a consumer views an online video advert through to making the purchase, they shouldn’t have a problem – in fact there’s never been a better opportunity to reach consumers. In my opinion there’s nothing to fear from showrooming as long as the brand has a viable online offering.Victor Malachard, CEO and co-founder, AdfonicBrands can embrace showrooming by starting with mobile search – that is, reaching people at the point where they're looking to buy. That means retailers will need a compelling mobile presence and m-commerce shop. When they have this, plus users who come in via search, they can use retargeting via a mobile demand-side platform (DSP) to keep the pressure on those consumers to push them through the sales funnel.Andy Beames, sales group head, BlisMediaShowrooming is an inevitable threat to high street retailers, and an unavoidable one at that. It is human nature to shop around for the best deal and with the internet at our finger tips it’s so easy to check eBay or a competitor retailer’s site to find a better deal.Instead of fighting a losing battle, retailers should learn to embrace this and turn the situation to their advantage. Offering free Wi-Fi may seem counterproductive here but it would allow a retailer to track a user and see where and when they are shopping (especially important if they were in store but didn’t actually purchase). Tesco asks customers to enter their Clubcard details before using the Wi-Fi. The savvy retailer could offer a price match guarantee, or scanable items that are then delivered directly to a customer’s home – never underestimate how easily convenience can sway someone’s buying decision. Abhay Singhal, co-founder, VP of global sales and MD EMEA, InMobiShowrooming is often misunderstood; we find that the use of smartphones in physical retail stores tends to encourage purchases rather than discourage them. A recent Deloitte study found that 72 per cent of shoppers in physical stores using smartphones ultimately made a purchase in-store. Mobile use has already become a mainstay in physical retail shopping and marketers can use these unique capabilities to their advantage by creating mobile strategies that work in harmony with other channels, including physical retail stores, online and print catalogues.With increased concern around showrooming, the phenomenon of shoppers visiting stores to evaluate items but ultimately making purchases online or through mobile, a comprehensive and engaging mobile app can help retailers keep their brand top of mind and convert more shoppers in-store and through digital channelsPaul Berney, CMO and MD EMEA, Mobile Marketing AssociationLet's start with the obvious; you cannot turn the clock back, consumers are going to have their mobiles with them at all times so you cannot stop them price checking or looking at reviews. What you can do is explore how to make mobile part of the shopping experience. In the UK few retailers are addressing this, with the notable exceptions being Tesco, who has added ways of consumers using mobile in store by Wi-Fi enabling the stores and using scanable barcodes to packaging to let customers discover more about products. This kind of utility thinking will play a big part in making the in-store shopping experience better. The second huge opportunity is in mobile enabling loyalty schemes.Mark Emmett, chief information officer, ResponseTapShowrooming happens, it’s a fact of life. The best brands will turn it into an opportunity though and use that time to better engage with customers. For example, offering free Wi-Fi throughout a store making the online and offline experience seamless will go a long way. All brand experiences should be positive and build loyalty with the customer, but to do this you first need to better understand their behaviour and preferences. This is where more accurate data that links the online and offline journey comes in.Tresilian Segal, head of marketing Northern Europe, Adobe Marketing Cloud Showrooming is an opportunity to immediately create value for your customer. If businesses have a physical store, they need to understand that customers will showroom. Rather than try to prevent the inevitable, businesses should embrace this by adding value in-store and bring in the offers available online, for example discounts, free deliveries, loyalty and reviews. For customers that still go online to make the purchase, encourage them to go to your site whilst in-store. Make it as easy and convenient as possible by offering bespoke products, free Wi-Fi, and installing mobile POS units so they can shop right there and then, this is especially useful if the product is out of stock in-store. These are all small touches that could be vital to your store’s visibility and turn showrooming into a successful purchase. Erfan Djazmi, head of mobile EMEA, EssenceBrands must accept that consumer behaviour has changed in-store retail. Rather than hoping the trend will go away, brands should use showrooming and their customers’ device interactivity to their advantage, gathering consumer data to translate those into smarter, more relevant customer experiences. The data allows marketers insights into choices and behaviours that can be useful to later access, update, and interact with customers wherever they are – ultimately building a meaningful and engaging mobile CRM service. With hyper-targeted offers and gamification of the in-store experience, brands can further drive retention and enhance the relationships with their customers.The previous instalment of this series on mobile marketing trends explored why brands aren't focusing enough of their attention on mobile. The Drum's Mobile supplement, sponsored by Millennial Media, is published on Friday 8 November.Smartphone image courtesy of Shutterstock

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