Brick-and-mortar retail environments aren’t intended to act as mere showrooms. Yet this is exactly how many shoppers are treating them—testing the look and feel of products before going online to find the best price. Showrooming is a phenomenon that is not only frustrating but also harmful to brick-and-mortar retailer profits.
Experts recommend a number of strategies to combat showrooming, such as confronting price differentials head-on (price match guarantees are a common way of doing this). But another noteworthy strategy is to deliver a distinct customer service experience.
According to retail consultant, Chris Peterson, PhD, “If the in-store experience becomes personal, then consumers are most likely to vote for ‘Me-tailing,’ where their needs are addressed by a human being versus a computer screen.”
Focus on the Customer Experience
One area that can definitely sway a customer away from the store and onto the web is the waiting line. There’s nothing worse than having to wait so long and so often that the choice to leave the store and buy online is a no-brainer just to avoid standing in the queue. Retailers can accomplish several goals by getting rid of the waiting line in favor of virtual queuing.
1. Happier customers
When you eliminate the wait, customers aren’t “stuck” in a line. They’re free to mingle about in a common area or able to shop, browse, or relax while they wait. Freedom leads to an improved customer experience because they’re making choices about how they spend their time instead of being forced to stay in one place.
2. A better bottom line
Virtual queuing increases impulse sales. No customer needs to rush through their shopping to get in line before the “busy time” or to “beat the crowd.” They can secure their spot in line and still pick up a few last-minute items, no pressure.
3. Improved customer loyalty
A better customer experience leads to greater customer loyalty. Customers clearly recall which stores have provided them with an easy, convenient, painless checkout experience and which store has wasted their time. If they can help it, they won’t be revisiting the latter anytime soon.
4. A mobile-ready approach
Virtual queuing can put the waiting line in the palm of your customers’ hands. There is great comfort in that smartphone. When customers can claim (and change) their place in line—and be notified when their turn is near—all via their handheld device, retailers can find themselves a very satisfied customer.
It’s normal for traditional retailers to feel threatened by e-commerce, but online shopping is truly not the biggest danger. Customers go to brick-and-mortar stores because they want real-time service; they want to make purchases in that moment and not wait for them to ship and be delivered. This truth means that the opportunity to provide good service is always present. Retailers can rise to this challenge by improving all aspects of the customer experience.Virtual queuing, which eliminates the waiting line, is obviously just one of many strategies but it’s one that can put the “dread of waiting in line” out of the equation.