Retailer’s attempts to slow the consumer practice seem to be working as study shows showrooming has dropped 40 percent in one year
Athletic footwear and apparel retailer Foot Locker is aggressively combatting “showrooming” — the practice of consumers looking at merchandise in a store but purchasing it online — according to Ken Hicks, the company’s CEO, during a panel discussion at the NRF 103rd Annual Convention & Expo.
Hicks and JDA Software executives spoke about opportunities and challenges in today’s retail market at the panel discussion “Navigating Retail’s Relentless Reality: What CEOs Are Doing to Thrive in a Consumer-Driven World.” Foot Locker has managed to limit showrooming by being willing to experiment with new ideas, such as outfitting sales associates with tablets that can find lower prices, track in-stock inventory, and recommend related products right on the spot, Hicks said during the panel discussion. “Arming sales associates with the same information and capability that the customer has is one way to stop showrooming,” Hicks says.
Brick-and-mortar stores are in the throes of figuring out how to better compete in an increasingly online world where the customer has elevating expectations. Foot Locker is staying ahead of the curve with its in-store anti-showrooming initiatives. If they prove to be both successful and financially viable, tablets could be rolled out to associates in all 3,500 Foot Locker stores, according to Hicks.
To compete with giants such as Amazon, Hicks says the key is to take advantage of the ability to communicate one-on-one with customers to offer them full control of the shopping experience. In addition to doing things like arming sales clerks with tablets, Hicks says retail stores should consider having online options available in the store so customers can be in control of payment and shipping methods. “If I want it in the store or if I want it delivered to my home, or I want to pick it up in the store — I want to do it the way that I want it,” Hicks says. “I want to pay for it the way I want to pay — cash, credit, debit, Google Wallet, PayPal, Isis, layaway — whatever.”
Efforts at limiting showrooming appear to be working. A new study by IBM shows a significant decrease in the practice over the last year, in part because of proactive efforts of retailers like Foot Locker and Best Buy at stemming the practice. Retailers that are willing to price match with online competitors and have made returns easier makes customers more willing to purchase in-store and on-the-spot, says Keith Mercier, an associate partner at the IBM Center of Competence.