The Advantages of Showrooming For Your Pool Business
The art of showrooming is set to change the landscape of HVAC businesses in the future. Whether you sell directly to the public or to trade, here's all you need to know about it.
What is Showrooming?
There are actually several definitions. In some quarters it's defined as using one's mobile to price compare and do homework on products prior to purchase. Alternately, it can be defined as when customers do extensive online research or in-store research. After this, they either purchase online or in-store. In essence though, showrooming means that customers combine the perks of both online research with real world bricks and mortar shopping.
The Link Between Retail and the Internet
A recent TNS study in 43 countries has shown that 21% of shoppers browse products in-store using their smart phones; 43% of customers will read online reviews; and 31% will compare with competitors prices. What this means is that pool and spa businesses have entered into a nail-biting new era of relative unknown factors to contend with, when selling their products.
Although despite this trend in recent years, it's possible for SME in the HVAC industry to keep up with bigger brands and still remain competitive. Rather than see price comparisons, reviews and 'showrooming' as a threat, it's possible to up the ante with better offers, discounts, loyalty schemes and in-store VIP experiences.
More Important Statistics on Showrooming
Here are some more interesting statistics about showrooming that are pertinent to the pool, spa and HVAC industry.
- 74% of these shoppers in the survey were aged 29 years and over. So showrooming and online research isn't just the purview of younger people.
- 40% of respondents in an eConsultancy survey have used their mobile for price checking and reviews while they're out shopping.
- The number of customers showrooming has doubled since 2011 and now sits at 19%.
Why Are People Showrooming?
With the sheer enormous amount of information that's available online and the prevailing dominance of mobile technology, it was only a matter of time before bricks and mortal and online selling merged and blended into one. Also, these are frugal economic times in some parts of the world. So many shoppers will go to great lengths to save a couple of dollars where they can. Here are some common reasons why people do this:
- 69% of customers said they showroom to get lower prices online.
- 47% said that free shipping for their items online was a big draw-card.
- 27% of shoppers had no solid intention for purchase. They are doing the modern equivalent of window-shopping.
What You Should Do Right Now to Optimise for Showrooming
- Highlight your point of difference with competitors, on your website and in your bricks and mortar shop.
- Launch a mobile optimised website with products for purchase.
- Get active on social media and build up an online community of followers.
- Allow flexible pick up options either in-store or delivery to home when purchased online.
- Intimately get to know your customers and what they want.
- Create a positive in-store and online experience for customers, including a streamlined order fulfilment process.
- Hire knowledgeable and competent sales staff who are guns at customer service.
But Don't Sell Up Your HVAC Supply Shop Just Yet...
Bricks and Mortar retailers still have the edge over e-commerce retailers in some respects. A physical shop with friendly, helpful and customer-focused staff will always attract more customers. This can generally trump the 'I want it now' convenience factor of buying online.
Also the touchy-feely, try-before-you-buy experience that shoppers have in-store can't be replicated in the same way online. Especially for custom-made items.
Although it's not viable to price match to the big guns like Amazon, at least not in the long-term, it's a wise idea to have short-term promotions. Along with this you should integrate your HVAC business to be both online and a bricks and mortar enterprise. This will enable lots more opportunities for your customers to engage with you online as well as in person. Failing to do this may mean missing a trick for generating more revenue.
Three Ways to Facilitate Showrooming
You may not have an enormous budget for wow-factor in-store experiences, but here is some strategies that have proven to be successful.
Touch screen devices in-store: Create an enjoyable in-store/digital shopping experience, by offering in-store touch screens that showcase the latest products along with tech-specs. Alternately, you can arm your staff with touch-screen devices that make their customer facing roles easier.
A mobile app: Your business could offer a mobile app that can act as a valuable tool for product selection, reviews and customer interaction.
Free wifi in-store: You could provide free wifi in-store to encourage browsing. Consider using QR codes or bar codes in-store for easy scanning by customers. People will flock to the store for the convenience of using the wifi and will appreciate not having to use up their data allowances.
Send SMS notifications: When it's practicable, another idea is to send customers SMS notifications while they shop in-store and use the wifi.
Loyalty programmes: Reward return customers with discounts to their online shopping or in-store shopping.
Evoheat like to share pertinent business information with our trade customers. Everyone stands to benefit from blending new-school technology with old-school customer service. Speak with us for future-focused heating and cooling products.