This Retailer Actually Loves Showrooming!
Around this time of year, we find ourselves searching the industry for words of wisdom, encouragement and inspiration, mainly as a way to learn from what transpired in the past and to establish new goals and better practices for the coming year.
A few of those nuggets came our way during a conversation with Alan Lavine, one of the regional CE dealers who participated in Dealerscope’s annual retailer roundtable. (Check out the December issue for the full report and visit Dealerscope.com for weekly outtakes. The reports are also packed with insightful and helpful quotes from a handful of other CE retailers).
Lavine, manager of Percy’s, an 80-year-old electronics and appliance institution in Worcester, Mass., is a retailer’s retailer. He knows how to throw a great sales event, take advantage of ripe opportunities (Massachusetts’ 2010 appliance exchange stimulus program was a fine example), change merchandising strategies when needed (bedding, Lavine learned awhile ago, is far more profitable than TVs), and work with valued partners to help him through tough transitions.
So we couldn’t help but smile when we read his comments about showrooming, one of the most pressing, debated and contentious challenges retailers faced last year.
We fully understand the frustration the practice causes dealers, but we always believed the best of them could take advantage of it. A customer using her smartphone in a store is most likely someone who has decided to buy something, somewhere. A good sales associate will make that “somewhere” his or her store.
Before Lavine talked about showrooming, he illustrated some of the improvements Percy’s made during the year. Lavine admitted that he and his team didn’t always do a good job listening to customers. When they began to open their ears, they heard a demand for layaway and added it to their service offerings. (Admitting weak points is always a good sign; fixing them is even better.) They also heard customers asking for lease-to-own and other payment methods.