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Taking the Showrooming Out of Holiday Shopping

Taking the Showrooming Out of Holiday Shopping

"The reality is that 76 percent of women still prefer to shop in stores," said Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl. "For savvy retailers, this presents an opportunity, not a threat. In fact, major brands are using mobile to enhance the in-store experience by bringing the best of e-commerce's personalized offers and recommendations to the in-store experience through mobile."

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
10/01/13 5:00 AM PT

There are many reasons marketers today are gearing up their mobile strategies for the holiday season, and not all of them are as obvious as one might think. Yes, revenue and competition are of course key factors, but in this Internet era, so is a third: Namely, a proactive, aggressive mobile CRM and marketing campaign is the only way to play offense in a season and industry now characterized by showrooming.

Showrooming is a term that developed to describe consumers' actions when they go to brick-and-mortar stores such as Best Buy or Radio Shack to test out the devices they're considering purchasing at better prices online. Those offline stores, in other words, effectively serve as real-world showrooms for the online wares of such e-commerce merchants as Amazon.

For many retailers, curtailing showrooming is the main -- if not only -- reason to develop and support a robust mobile platform, especially during the holidays. Others, though, take a longer view and realize the benefits of establishing a relationship with consumers as they simultaneously try to stymie their showrooming habits, Bob Egner, vice president of product management at EPiServer, told CRM Buyer.

Offering discounts and promotions for future purchases -- after the holiday season, specifically -- is one way to do this.

Integrating M-Commerce

Still, even if the consumer is bombarded with a wealth of offers, the technology must be in place to grease the wheels.

For instance, m-commerce must be integrated with an in-store experience for such tactics to work, said Hilmi Ozguc, founder and CEO of Swirl.

"The reality is that 76 percent of women still prefer to shop in stores," Ozguc told CRM Buyer. "For savvy retailers, this presents an opportunity, not a threat. In fact, major brands are using mobile to enhance the in-store experience by bringing the best of e-commerce's personalized offers and recommendations to the in-store experience through mobile."

Showrooming is only a threat if price is the deciding factor, Ozguc continued: "Contrary to news reports, smartphone-toting shoppers offer savvy retailers a great opportunity for increasing engagement and in-store sales."

Other Tactics

Retailers also have the advantage of being able to marry their in-store technologies with mobile devices to create novel, value-add campaigns that engender loyalty, Andrew King, senior strategy consultant at Lyris, told CRM Buyer.

Geofencing is an obvious example, he said.

"When someone with one of these devices enters the virtual perimeter, they can be targeted with highly targeted in-app ads or MMS messages," King explained.

Context marketing is another example.

"Smartphones allow marketers to access a wealth of information about their customers such as past searches, browsing behavior, social media interactions and location," King noted. "All of this data can be used to deliver products, content or ads in real time, related to the context of the customer.

"Retailers often do this with display ads by adding nearest-store details based on the customer's actual location," he added.

Making Sure It All Works

One key, though, is to make sure not only that these in-store-mobile campaigns are technically attractive, but that they are viable as well.

Basic testing is mandatory, Syed Hasan, CEO of ResponseTek, told CRM Buyer.

"Through the holiday season, all retail systems are pushed to capacity -- both with people and technology," Hasan pointed out. "Given the high amount of revenue generated in that short period of time, companies need a real-time warning system when experiences are failing, whether this be in the retail store, call center or even on the website."

Integrated mobile, retail and call center customer experience measurement systems will help ensure problems are identified as they happen and where they happen, he added, and escalate them into the business for quick resolution.


Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Md.


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