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Jeff O’Heir, Editor in Chief of Dealerscope, has covered consumer electronics and information technology issues for more than 15 years. Prior to that, he wrote about crime, politics, boxing and the arts for daily newspapers.

The Value of Showrooming

Ever since “showrooming” entered the retail vernacular we’ve argued that smart retailers could take advantage of the practice as an easier way to identify obvious buyers, engage them and help them to buy exactly what they’re looking for...and more. We certainly realize how much showrooming has disrupted and hurt the brick-and-mortar retail business. But now that everyone’s familiar with the practice, we strongly believe the positives can outweigh the negatives.

Jay Vandenbree, LG’s senior vice president, home entertainment, believes the same. In our annual roundtable discussion with executives from some of the top TV manufacturers, Vandenbree speaks eloquently about why independent dealers are still so important to LG. He then switches gears and talks about the actual opportunities showrooming presents to the CE retailer. We couldn’t say it any better.

“If you had told me you could identify every consumer ready to buy because they’d be staring at a product with their cell phone out, I’d tell you, as a retailer, I could close almost any of them that came in,” he said. “Never before, at the point of retail, have you ever had a sign that said, ‘I’m ready to buy,’ like that.”

Every store manager should be passing along that message to his or her sales associates. The showrooming customer, as Vandenbree points out, is ready to buy. When a consumer uses their smartphone in a store, they’re just looking for the best price. The sales associate who approaches that customer can now offer them something they can’t find online: the best value.

“We know that 85 percent of consumers research online before they do anything. But a customer who comes into a retail store first had to make a conscious decision not to buy from home. So they’re already predisposed to buy from the dealer,” he said. “But they also know that there might be some deals, and if they can show a price, everyone will price-match. And that’s where I think retailers’ value-add comes in. That’s where they have to explain what consumers get by shopping with them.”

That opening now gives the dealer the rare opportunity to look a consumer in the eye and (depending on the product in question) describe all of the services that makes the retailer better than any of its brick-and-mortar and online competitors: white-glove delivery; no-hassle returns; first looks at new products; VIP invites to special events; hand-held demonstrations of the latest technologies; clear descriptions of the full solutions that optimize core products; quick, friendly and effective answers to any technical questions or problems. The list can be endless.

“That’s where they have to explain what consumers get by shopping with them,” Vandenbree said. “There’s a value provided from that.”

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