How Brick And Mortar Stores Can Win The Showrooming Battle [Future Of Retail]

How Brick And Mortar Stores Can Win The Showrooming Battle [Future Of Retail]

PSFK Labs looks at Contextual Support technologies that deliver relevant information to shoppers as they need it.

  • 28 november 2013

How do physical stores compete in a retail landscape where showrooming is going mainstream and their customers have myriad options of how and where to buy? Simple. Retailers have to get to a shopper’s mobile device before they even know what they’re looking for. And with the aid of new technologies, this opportunity is now possible.

In an information saturated world, the Amazons of the world have found a way to harness people’s desire for having the right reviews, details and specs on hand while they’re shopping, and thanks to the mobile phone this behavior is no longer confined only to the online space. Bricks and mortar stores have been slower to react, banking on their ability to deliver on sensory experiences and instant gratification, but as the reality of these new shopper expectations set in, they’re realizing this is no longer enough to meet shoppers’ needs.

However, with the advent of sensors and interactive technologies, these same offline retailers are uniquely positioned to capitalize on the immediacy of what their physical stores and products can offer by simply augmenting the experience around them. One way we’re seeing this manifest is through the delivery of relevant information related to products, discounts and even directions to a shopper’s phone at key points along the purchase path. This on-hand access eliminates the need for searching, with the added benefit of keeping customers immersed in branded and targeted interactions. The ability to reach shoppers on their own terms is a trend featured in PSFK Labs‘ Future of Retail report that we are calling Contextual Support.


Mobile phones have become the go to source for just about everything in consumers’ lives, especially information. Mary Meeker’s essential Internet Trends Report revealed that the average smartphone user reaches for his/her device an average of 150 times per day. Similarly, Anthony Hopper of  Saatchi & Saatchi X noted that “The retail marketing channel of the future may well be in-store screen technology, but the screen will be in the shopper’s hands.”

Showrooming has become a key strategy for online retailers, but can easily be restored to the hands of brick and mortar store owners. Jack Philbin the co-founder and CEO of Vibes mobile marketing directs companies to grab “the antidote to showrooming by creating contextually relevant and personalized mobile experiences that motivate and influence consumers to take notice and make purchases. If retailers don’t establish personalized mobile strategies, they’ll increasingly face unengaged consumers who will continue to browse in-store and buy online from competitors.” Furthermore Vibes found that 89% of consumers want personalization, but only 18% see it frequently from retailers.

Looking to the future, PSFK Labs‘ Director, Scott Lachut warns companies that “There is a fine line between welcome information and spam. Respect your shoppers’ willingness to engage by not interrupting their shopping trip with messaging that distracts from the experience.”

As you look for ways to provide your customers with more information as they shop, we suggest reviewing the following questions:

  • How do you ensure that your customers feel comfortable receiving targeted messaging?
  • What information will your customers value most?
  • How can this information drive shoppers through to purchase?
  • How do you keep the technology systems and content management accurate and up to date to consistently deliver relevant information?
  • Besides stores, what other physical locations offer opportunities to serve up relevant information to your customers?
  • How can physical stores be mapped to understand where customers need information?
  • What content can you create around individual products, displays or departments?

In the fourth edition of the Future of Retail Report, PSFK Labs brings together two interconnected themes and eleven key trends that provide a foundation for the modern shopping experience. The findings are brought to life with best-in-class examples, actionable strategies and leading questions to inspire leading retailers and brands. Join us at our San Francisco conference on Nov. 21st where talks from retail innovators will bring the key themes to life.


Contributed by: Wesley Robison

Photos by Neosites and Need Tagger

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