Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Show-rooming. Don’t compete on price. Add value instead.

So you’re a retailer and I’m a customer that’s just walked into your shop.

You assume I’m a real customer. I browse like customers do. I talk to your sales staff. I fiddle with the merchandise: be it top end TV’s, pairs of shoes or tennis racquets. I ask about price. Then I leave without buying anything.

And you think “Well, perhaps, he wasn’t a real shopper. Perhaps he was a window shopper.” But what you didn’t know, what you’ll never know, was that I was a real shopper. But I was also a show-roomer. I was dead serious about buying that 55-inch LCD TV. I was just never going to buy it from you. All I wanted from your store’s TV was to see the picture quality for myself. Make sure I liked the finishes. Play with the dials. Smudge the screen. And then leave.

Why should I buy it from you? When I can just hop onto a price comparison website, like, and enter the brand and the model and 20 online retailers will pop up that will sell me that same TV, complete with the same manufacturer’s warranty, and deliver it to my house for thousands of rands less than any major bricks and mortar retailer.

They’re lucky those online retailers. They don’t have to pay for that vast floor space in that pricey part of town. And they don’t have to hire any of your sales assistants. All they need is a website and a warehouse in the cheapest industrial zone.

Though show-rooming isn’t as common in this country as it is overseas, you can bet your rand it soon will be.

So you’d do well to have a strategy in place that combats it. You can’t compete on price. There’s not enough margin. You have to add value instead. Make your shopping experience the very best it can be. Ensure your store is as attractive as it can be. Train your staff to be friendly and uber-knowledgeable. Go the extra mile after the sale. Give customers more. Because it’s proven that people will pay more for more.

Otherwise, they’ll pull out their smart phone right in your shop, right there in front of you, after wasting your time and punch their credit card details into another shop.

Now that won’t be very nice at all.

Hilton Alexander Rose

Your Brand Agency | Director