Ideas for improving in-store sales by using online approaches.

I was reading an interesting article the other day about how shops on the High Street need to work with the threat of the Internet rather than fall victim to it.  The article focussed on the behaviour of some people who come into the shop try products and then use their smartphones to compare prices online with a view to making a purchase on  the cheapest website.  So called “showrooming”.

Some of the advice from the article was well made so I have distilled the better points.

Does comparison shopping really go on?

Well, if you run a retail premises you will have your own experience to refer to.  Research in the US suggests 25 to 60% of people have comparison-shopped via phone while in-store.

On the upside, most in-store researchers stay put. According to Pew, 35% bought  from the retailer’s store location where they were comparison-shopping, 19%  bought online and only 8% went to another store. If approached the right way,  immediacy can work wonders for conversion and that is what you need to work on!

So what do you do about it (showrooming)?

Here are three suggestions for ensuring people purchase in-store.

  1. Use reviews in store
  2. Tell everyone about your excellent customer service
  3. Make sure staff have product knowledge
More detail on each of these below.

1. Use reviews in store

One of the reasons that people go online is to read reviews as well as price compare.  To reduce the likelihood of them seeking out reviews, bring the reviews to them!  As a shop owner, you need to go online to find the reviews and then repeat them inside your shop on a piece of card.  This approach gives the visitors to the shop the confidence they need to make the purchase whilst discouraging them from ever getting their phone out!

Do try to make sure that your shoppers perceive that you have shown balanced reviews, or they may feel a need to do the exercise independently.

 2. Tell everyone about your excellent customer service

You already do provide great customer service – right?  Well do you?  Do your customers feel that love?  Do they know just how far you go in your customer service and what the benefits are over online purchase?  If you think that some of them don’t, then you must make sure that they all do.

I often reflect on a store in my High Street that sells white goods and electronic products (Adams, Cook & Pearce).  They have been going years and changed guises, but their customer service for me has always been excellent.  I always use them for large electrical items because they do what the online retailers don’t, which is provide great installation service and great warranty support.  When I had a TV from them and the speaker failed under warranty, they came and collected the old one, left me with a replacement and then brought back and installed the original one!!  It doesn’t get better than that.  I dread to think of all the hassle I would have had if I had bought the TV from an online retailer such as Amazon.  All a shop like Adams, Cook and Pearce needs to do is make sure that every customer that comes into their shop (and local consumers that don’t),  understand just how great their service is and how valuable it will be if (and when) you have to call upon it.

So, make sure all your customers know just how good you are.

3. Make sure staff have product knowledge

Customers just want to make the right decision when purchasing a product.  If you can help them be confident that their decision is good, then they will buy.

The reasons in-store shoppers turn to their mobiles is to find information and get advice, so make sure they can find out more in-store, often by talking to a sales person.  People love to purchase from other people who are knowledgeable and passionate about the products.  If staff are knowledgeable enough to answer customers’ product queries effectively, then they may not need to head online.

If staff don’t have the required product knowledge, then it’s easy to find this information online, where customers may also find the same laptop at a cheaper price.

Obtain your shop visitors’ contact information

Vikky has mentioned in an earlier High Street focused post, a variety of strategies to help support physical shops.  One thing I think it is good for us all to do is capture email addresses of people that come into our premises to allow us to contact them in the future.  This approach allows business people to communicate with their audience for an extended period and grow relationships.

If you wish to discuss any of the above and to investigate how it applies to your business, please contact me.


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Nigel White
My career has given me insights into large and small businesses across many sectors. Academically, I have a MA (Strategic Marketing) and use this understanding to provide consultancy and advice to all clients I work with. Very high on my agenda: needs analysis, service, and quality.