Showrooming (verb): The act of going into a store to see a product and collect information, then buying it from a different source cheaper.
It is the new bad thing that will be the demise of brick & mortar stores trying to compete with Internet warehouses with low overhead in tax-friendly states with minimum wage order pickers. It is the new approach by Amazon to steal your customers away.
Except it is not all that new.
People have been shopping around for a better price for years. Customers have been going into stores to see items, get information, and get advice only to turn around and buy the item somewhere else cheaper ever since the day the second caveman opened a competing spear store. Grog undercut Brug's prices and showrooming began.
It just hasn't been as brazen until now. We all have experienced the customer who asked us questions, picked our brains, then snapped a pic of the barcode and left. That customer is no different than the catalog shopper of the last century, no different than Brug's brother-in-law who went to Grog's store first.
Those customers are simply Transactional Customers. They look at each shopping event as a singular activity. They do all the research they can on the product, then they go off on a hunt to find the best price. If you don't have the best price, you don't make the sale.
I've done it. You have, too. You have looked at an item in a store then bought it elsewhere cheaper. We all have a Transactional side in our shopping habits on certain categories.
I think where the frustration lies is that we believe that just because she entered our store, she is our customer. No she isn't! She isn't your customer until she decides to make a purchase from you. It is up to you to get her to that point. And even when she makes that purchase, she still isn't your customer. You have to earn it over and over and over again.
So if we want to combat this new (old) threat, the first step is to recognize that she is not your customer until the transaction is completed. She never was and won't be unless you get her to buy. It is called closing the sale and it is something we all need to improve.
Of course, closing the sale has changed since Grog's day. Let's quit complaining about showrooming and start learning new ways to close the sale. Okay?
PS I talk a little about closing the sale in my free download Customer Service: From Weak to WOW! I am doing a presentation on Selling in a Showrooming World at the ABC Spring Educational Conference in a couple weeks. Look for the free eBook to land sometime after that.