The biggest threat to the average local retailer this holiday season isn’t the big box store down the street, but the e-commerce outlet selling the same products for less money online. A recent comScore survey found that 37% of consumers have used their smartphones to check prices while standing inside a retail store (a practice referred to as “showrooming”). Meanwhile, nearly one-fifth of gross retail sales are now being lost due to in-store price comparisons, according to Swarm, a mobile marketing platform for SMBs.
In an effort to help curb showrooming and entice customers to make more in-store purchases, local retailers are increasingly utilizing hyperlocal solutions. Here are five tools that retailers can use in their efforts.
Swarm is a self-serve platform that uses mobile technology to connect retailers to the shoppers inside their stores. Customers who pull out their phones and start comparing prices in-store are immediately sent coupons, discounts, and loyalty points meant to lure them away from online retailers. Swarm also provides local retailers with analytics that show in-store traffic, dwell time, and path conversions. Licensing fees for Swarm start at $49.99 per store.
PoKos is a “next generation retail-shopping app” that allows retailers to engage with customers in public and private online chats. Merchants who use PoKos can reach out to customers in their stores to answer questions and provide information about specific products. These interactions can help merchants guide customers toward premium products that can only be purchased in-store, which should ultimately result in customers being less likely to make their purchases online. Retailers can contact PoKos for custom pricing options.
E-commerce stores have a hard time competing with local retailers in terms of immediacy, since consumers usually have to wait a number of days before receiving any products they purchase online. Local stores can capitalize on this by using a platform like Retailigence. Retailigence offers businesses a way to reach customers who are looking for specific products on their smartphones in the nearby vicinity. Merchants can let those customers know that the products they’re searching for are available for purchase right away at their stores. Retailigence operates on a CPM-based revenue model. Merchants can get started with the platform by signing up on the company’s website.
Larger brands and retailers can use Shopkick to reward customers for making purchases in-store rather than online. Shopkick dissuades customers from making purchases online by rewarding them for in-store activities (like walking inside a retail location, discovering products within that location, and ultimately making purchases). Customers can redeem these points for gift cards. Shopkick charges retailers a “small fee” for each point its customers earn, receives a commission when customers redeem their points, and charges “less than $100″ for the transmitters that must be installed at each retail location.
Brick-and-mortar retailers that can’t compete with online outlets on price can still provide value to shoppers by offering excellent customer service. Radialpoint is a tool that merchants can use to offer in-store technical support to shoppers without overburdening cashiers and salespeople during the busiest time of the year. In-store salespeople can plug into Radialpoint’s “on-site diagnosis” tools to quickly assess and resolve their customers’ issues. By resolving problems for customers immediately, merchants can provide a service that e-commerce sites cannot. They can also decrease the number of product returns and exchanges. Merchants can contact Radialpoint for specific pricing options.
Know of other platforms that local retailers should use to drive in-store sales and help curb showrooming? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.