Showrooming Insights
By Mark Kalaygian
June 5, 2013

A recent Harris Interactive survey, reported on Consumerist.com, could provide pet retailers with some useful insights about the practice of showrooming.

 

While some of the results were unsurprising—for example, Best Buy was listed as the most-showroomed retailer, and Amazon was the biggest beneficiary of the practice, as reported in previous studies—some notable trends were revealed, including:

 

 

• Walmart was second on the list of retailers most showroomed, and Target came in third.

My take: So much for the idea that a focus on the lowest-prices (Walmart) or product exclusivity (Target) can completely insulate a retailer from the practice of showrooming.

 

 

• The product expertise of store staff may not be all that important of a draw for consumers—at least not for those who took part in the survey. A surprising 59 percent of shoppers who took part in the poll indicated that they would rather use their smartphones to obtain information about a product than ask a sales associate for help.

My take: I’ll be honest, this one surprised me. I am a big believer in the well-educated staff as an important competitive strength for brick-and-mortar pet stores, and nothing in this survey is going to move me off that position. I suspect that the result may have everything to do with the typical expertise that can be found at a Walmart or Target. Even Best Buy, for all of its bluster about having educated staff, cannot compare to the level of knowledge found at a well-run pet store.

 

 

• Buying decisions often all come down to price. Approximately 60 percent of survey respondents said that they would be more likely to buy a product in a brick-and-mortar store if it offered to match online prices.

My take: Not much of a surprise here. Ater all, isn’t showrooming all about finding the lowest price? Unfortunately, a firm price-matching guarantee isn’t feasible for most pet stores—not when websites like Amazon are selling some products at the same prices that pet stores are getting at wholesale. However, pet retailers should consider matching prices whenever possible, particularly for loyal customers.

 

 

• Consumers want their order today. Nearly 90 percent of survey respondents indicated that being able to get their purchase on the same day—either through same-day delivery or in-store pickup—would be a deciding factor in where they buy.

My take: The impatience of consumers remains a decided benefit for brick-and-mortar retailers, but for how long? Many experts say that nationwide same-day delivery from online retailers is inevitable, at least in the case of Amazon. Pet stores may want to try beating them to the punch by offering their own delivery or in-store pickup services.