Business Magazine

Marketing to Women: Will Retail Stores Disappear?

Posted on the 21 March 2013 by Jamiedunham @jdunham

showrooming_imageCan you imagine a time when brick and mortar stores are just window shopping venues for online shoppers?  Some retail experts are prognosticating a time in the not-too-distant future when stores will become glorified showrooms because of the rise in internet commerce.

Actually, some online-only stores are actually experimenting with opening retail operations. Among those famous online names are EBay and Etsy who are testing temporary stores, while Piperlime, the Gap Inc. unit that was online-only for six years, opened a SoHo store last fall. Bonobos plans to keep opening stores, and Warby Parker, the eyeglass brand, will soon open a physical location.  These companies see these showrooms as catering to consumers who like the social nature of shopping – and need to touch and feel items before they purchase them.

Back to the experts – some say the way of the future will be smaller stores, carrying little or no inventory, with an efficient showroom model.  Consumers will see the product, make a selection and have it shipped to them the next day.  Some of these stores are testing the water now.

Today’s Showrooming and Sale Surfing

Today, showrooming refers to consumers that look at a product in store and then buy it online for a cheaper price.  A recent study found out that the top retailers at risk for showrooming (read buy it online or at another discounter) are Bed Bath & Beyond, PetSmart, ToysRUs, Best Buy and Sears.  Target seemed to do a little bit better.

Research shows that when shoppers were asked how many products they researched while in the retail store with their mobile device within the past 3 months, 80% indicated that they had researched at least 3 products with 43% had researched 5 or more products.

For all those showroomers, there are many shoppers that stay home,  start online and purchase online.

Will Brand Loyalty Survive?

According to a new study from InContact and Harris Interactive, 56% of consumers said they would be at least somewhat likely to switch brands based on customer service options, and a quarter do not feel any loyalty to any type of brand. These value shoppers are actually looking for more than price.  One of the value factors is customer service contact points and flexible timing for customer service.  Brands will need online, offline, social, and 24-hour hotlines to endear consumers.

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