April 12, 2013, 10:39 AM

How focusing on customers can thwart the perils of showrooming

An IRCE speaker outlines a strategy to counter the behavior.

Lead Photo

Eli Gurock

It’s a sight that many retailers would rather not see: Consumers inside their stores using smartphones to compare the prices of products they see on store shelves with ones they find online. That’s because in many instances the consumer finds a better price from a web retailer and purchases what she saw in the store on the Internet.

Eli Gurock, co-founder and head of e-commerce at Magic Beans, which operates five stores and an e-commerce site selling toys, car seats and other products for children, will share his strategy for tackling this issue, called  showrooming, on June 5 at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2013 in a presentation titled “Combatting scan-and-scram: Don’t fear the mobile price-shopping customer.”

Showrooming is fairly common. A Harris Poll survey in November found that 43% of U.S. adults have participated in showrooming.

To counter the behavior, some stores, like Best Buy Inc. and Target Corp., are matching prices at online retailers and local competitors. But price is just one component of why consumers engage in showrooming, Gurock says. “This is really a problem that stretches across all of a business’ channels,” he says. “Store experience, convenience, service and fun are just some of the other pieces to the shopping process. As bricks-and-mortar retailers, we need to motivate our employees to wow customers with outstanding service and give them clear and easy strategies to convince the customer to convert in-store, or on the store's own e-commerce site.”

Attendees of Gurock’s presentation will have a better sense of the strategies needed to capture sales when customers are comparing prices in stores, Gurock says. “Retailers need a customer-centered strategy focused on training, marketing and execution,” he says.

Internet Retailer editors asked Gurock to speak because of his experience as co-founder of Magic Beans, where his job descriptions have ranged from selling strollers to serving as head of its e-commerce operations. 

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