There have been quite a few articles about the modern phenomenon of 'showrooming' recently, but can it really be blamed for the demise of the High Street?
Showrooming is where shoppers visit a store to try out the products before looking online for a better price and buying elsewhere. I think we're all guilty of it, especially when making larger considered purchases such as electrical items.
Research by design agency Foolproof found that 24% of people showroomed while Christmas shopping - and 40% of them took their business elsewhere. (BBC News Website)
The downfall of High Street brands such as Jessops and Comet have largely been blamed on showrooming and as Jessops went into administration staff hung a sign saying "Jessops Staff would like to thank you for shopping at Amazon". However the High Street brands can compete as Dixons have shown with recent growth in their tablet sales in store.
Some stores overseas are now charging showrooming fees for customers wishing to come in and browse. Some speciality brands will be having less stores and more of a showroom type store to combat this trend as more and more sales are driven online. It is ever more crucial now to be an omni-channel retailer and change the old retail model to suit consumer habits. On the flip side online retailers may well look at opening showrooms on the High Street with online retailers such as ebay opening seasonal pop up shops and Amazon looking into having a High Street presence.
Lots of multi channel retailers offer the option of ordering your goods online and picking up in-store instead of waiting for a delivery, which might be missed. This example of using the bricks and mortar and online retail channels effectively by giving the customer flexibility and a quick turnaround on receiving items. It looks likely that these will be the survivors of the retail revolution that is happening at the moment, driven by technology at our fingertips and economic pressures.
The trouble is how many UK retailers are already embracing this new way of shopping? Can they compete with so many online retailers offering the same products at excellent prices? Are they ready to change and offer consumers the experience they want?
One thing is for sure we have seen some iconic brands fall to the wayside because they were not quick enough to respond and change with customer shopping habits and any retailer that isn't already implementing a showrooming strategy will be at risk of also falling behind and losing its customer base.
We are installing more and more interactive information points and display materials designed to encourage customer interaction online and with the brands social media. There are lots of brands getting it right and making sure the in store experience fits with how customers want to shop and we are happy to be working with those brands to ensure that bricks and mortar is still an attractive prospect for consumers.