If you’re an app developer of a specific ilk, or if you happen to own or manage a retail operation, then this blog title should speak to you in a way that’s very personal.
As an app developer, so-called ‘comparison’ or showrooming (to put it less kindly) style apps are always popular with consumers (along with coupon apps, group deal apps or any kind of app promoting savings or specials) since, as we know, the bulk majority of consumers are looking for a deal and don’t care how they get it.
If you are the owner of a showroom enterprise, then you understand this type of app — and the effect it can have on your business. It’s a one way conduit to your competition at the expense of your inventory and showroom dollars that leaves your bottom line flat and enriches those of your cutthroat, sometimes less than ethical, competitors. Goodness knows that over the years manufacturers have attempted to help you combat showrooming (well before the advent of apps or the smart phone or even a mobile phone that didn’t look like suitcase) by assigning territories, creating M(inimum)R(etail)P(rice) schemes and so forth.
Way back in the days before the internet (yes, I know, Adam was still riding his dinosaur across South Florida in the wake of Hurricane Andrew back then), I worked for a company or two that encouraged showrooming (as well as having millions of dollars invested into their own showroom inventory which other retailers who did not were then prone to using to showroom) and then a follow up phone call to the retailer to see what better pricing and terms could be had on the items. If the consumer wished to travel to our extensive, considerable (and considerably cheaper to own due the cheap land that was chosen for these mega-showrooms) physical locations, that was super too. We still couldn’t possibly, even with a million square feet under roof, show every combination from every manufacturer, or even the most popular ones from every factory, there was simply not enough space to be had.
Instead of the telephone today, shoppers can use a smartphone app (or tablet app) in your store to price shop you and they can do it so much more simply to boot (really, in the olden days you had to figure out the model number and manufacturer of an item in order to call someone to price shop) since there are a multitude of apps that require nothing more than the user taking a picture of the item with their phone (or scanning the bar code as Amazon’s popular pricing app works) and the app does the rest of the work.
So you, dear retailer, have two choices. Both of them simple. You can either stop stocking your retail store with the latest, greatest merchandise or you can fight these apps with your own technology. And there are many ways to use technology to fight back. In store promotions involving QR codes, creating your own app, hitching a ride on the coattails of an aggregator app, any of these options are possible. With the myriad of app creation software/cloud companies (do a quick Google search and you’ll find them across a broad range of implementation costs), it’s entirely possible to create an app in a day and have it hosted and running (in the Google Play store at least, Apple’s AppStore takes a bit longer for approval normally) and available to potential buyers. Whether you market your app in your existing advertising channels or choose to piggyback with other, complementary merchants (as in the case of your landlord doing a group app for tenants), or whether you simply offer the potential buyer access to the app from within your store when they are contemplating a purchase, you should feel compelled to protect your real estate and inventory investment by some means, surely. If you’re looking for ideas on what to offer in the app, how to get the app up and running, or any other logistics based ideas, Domino Research can help you with the mechanics of implementation.
Then there’s the old standby favorite, customer service and wowing them with a personal touch, that simply cannot be left out of this article… though sadly, just like the demise of the blue collar manufacturing job in America, low price megaretailers, big box stores and well funded retail chains have turned service before the sale into almost a non-existent luxury these days, regardless of the price point and type of goods you carry.