Showrooming – the saga continues

showroomingMany of our readers know the term “showrooming” but in case you are not familiar I will explain. Showrooming refers to shoppers who go to a store to see and feel the merchandise and then go online to buy it somewhere else, cheaper.

 

This has been a real problem for many retailers, especially the electronics giant Best Buy whose sales were certainly effected by this act. Of course it is completely within the law to window shop and compare and as retailers we realize that we cannot control the shoppers. I think it’s tacky when the shopper starts scanning product bar codes to use an APP on their phone to locate the product closeby at another store at a lower price.

 

Everything can’t always be cheaper! That’s just a fact of life. It costs money to run a store and shoppers will soon lose their window shopping when more and more stores close up because of no shopper loyalty or willingness to pay a dollar more to support your local businesses.

 

Many retailers have tried to fight the showrooming by switching to their own bar codes but found that APP’s also worked with product names and model numbers. So much for that. Then retailers like Best Buy became more proactive with their shoppers – using their sales force to engage shoppers on the sales floor. Not so easy to take snapshots of bar codes with a sales associate standing next to you. Also, the sales associates were able to discuss the product and pricing as well, and in many cases offering a price guarantee.

 

The price guarantee and trolling the sales floor worked for the electronics giant – BUT, and this is a big  but….the store’s margins diminished and they turned in a not so rosy profit picture after the holiday season.

 

So, in essence you can tackle the showrooming by being proactive on the sales floor and offering price matches but it will effect your bottom line. How long can you go seems to be the new wave of retailing. Thank you internet!

 

Ideas? Opinions? Share with us.

 

 

 

Here’s What Grinds My Gears…

The news for the retail industry has been discouraging since prior to last Christmas season. We read now that many established stores will be closing down this year. I read that it is estimated that over 40,000 retail stores will close this year. Now, some of them deserve to close as they were mismanaged and honestly I never understood how they even stayed around in the first place.

 

Also, remember when you read the doom and gloom news that stores like Steve & Barry’s and Mervyn’s have closed down through bankruptcy that perhaps this was a pre-meditated move. I recently read an article about the founder of Mervyn’s who sold the chain to an investment group thinking that they would carry on the name and promote the business. The article showed that the investors seemed more interested in the sum of its parts (real estate, real estate, real estate!) Same with Steve & Barry’s? Also saw National Wholesale Liquidators decided to liquidate themselves stating the tough economy hurt them. Hurt them? They sell CLOSEOUTS for goodness sake. The dollar and discounters are doing great when times get tough. Instead, I think they found a way out of their unsuccessful locations and a way to STIFF their suppliers. It was really interesting how some of the family members of the chain BOUGHT BACK their own stores in the bankruptcy auctions! They cherry-picked the profitable locations and cleared the liabilities to get a fresh start.

 

As a small business we’re not going to get the investor speculators to throw money at us. If we independents don’t step up and work harder and smarter we only end up going out of business. No fanfare. No front page in the Times or on Bloomberg’s news site. We simply have a clearance liquidation sale where people in the community who never bothered to stop into the store come in and feign sympathy as they buy for 75% off the dollar. My favorite line at these closing sales are “Oh, what a great store, it’s too bad.” This, coming from people who never bothered to stop in. And another local small store hits the dust. More community blight as downtown areas turn to ghost towns and property values dwindle down.

 

The small business is the backbone of our country and our economy. I can only hope that the new administration realizes this and steps up to assist our struggling businesses by emphasizing the need for communities to embrace their small businesses. These are your neighbors, sharing their love and concern for your community. The big box stores don’t care – they will take your money and put NOTHING back, sending their profits to their headquarters eons away from your hometown.

 

As small businesses we need to PROMOTE LOCAL SHOPPING with signs like “Support Your Local Merchants” and programs to encourage shoppers to stay local. We’re all in this together, as neighbors.

 

Well, that’s what Grinding My Gears this week!