Battle Against Showrooming Starts with Understanding Consumer Expectations

Winning the War Requires Insight That Empowers Retailers to Improve Customer Experience, Retention

With the ease of mobile price checks and online product comparisons, traditional brick and mortar (B&M) retailers have fallen victim to the “showrooming” phenomenon. Even manufacturer-owned retailers must understand the motives some customers have for switching to other B&M and online competitors.
Fundamental to understanding why consumers engage in this switching behavior is knowledge about the in-store shopping experience at a particular retailer. It boils down to expectations.
We naturally feel disappointed when our expectations are not met. And when we are disappointed, we tend to look elsewhere for gratification. For retailers, disappointment poses a major risk because it is contagious. We often tell others about our shopping experiences, and we tend to voice frustration over lack of fulfillment. So when a consumer invests time and energy to physically visit a retail location instead of simply placing an order online, understanding how to satisfy their prevailing expectations becomes paramount.
We explored two vital questions on brand affinity that every retailer needs to answer:

  1. How do consumers expect to benefit from shopping in-store?
  2. How do these expectations shift over time, especially during key shopping periods?

Using the Crimson Hexagon ForSight™ platform, we analyzed over 1.5 million on-topic posts from our social media data library regarding consumer expectations of shopping at Best Buy.

Expectations go well beyond instant gratification.

When considering the top benefits of in-store shopping, one of the most frequently cited factors is instant gratification. At Best Buy, however, social motivations represent the largest driver of in-store shopping. Not to be confused with sampling products on display, the prime expectation (46%) is a group-oriented “playground” experience: it is fun and helpful to shop with friends and family at Best Buy.
This unique in-store appeal represents a major long-term opportunity for Best Buy to combat showrooming. By coupling its showroom attraction with fun, in-store activities centered on a specific product or service offering, Best Buy can foster social shopping at retail locations.
Also interesting: the promise of customer service at Best Buy has lost its appeal. At 9% of the conversation, the expectation of customer service only represents a minor shopping incentive for consumers, despite the availability of sales representatives.

The expectation of deals continues to drive consumers in-store, though we found that this trend is highly seasonal. Store deals are most expected from mid-November to early December (15%).
Interestingly, this value expectation is lowest from mid-July to early August, at less than 2.5%. This shift presents Best Buy with an opportunity to surprise and capture customers before the competitive back-to-school sales cycle by creating and publicizing mid-summer store promotions.

What are consumer expectations at your retail locations?

Deep knowledge of store-specific expectations can inform each retailer’s strategy to reduce showrooming and customer loss. It may even unearth opportunities for new product and service offerings, and in-store activities to improve the customer experience.
If you want to learn more about how social media can reveal consumer expectations and motivations, Crimson Hexagon recently published an in-depth study on the “showrooming” phenomenon, which explores expectations of in-store vs. online shopping and consumer migration patterns.

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