Putting Showrooming In Perspective

As a husband and father to 5 daughters, the cartoon above is, at times, a pretty accurate description of my life. I’m sure all men in similar situations have found that couch or chair  they inevitably get placed in while the females in their lives try on shoes, clothes or whatever they may need.  In reality, I shop more than my wife and kids… they just don't go with me.  

But the real reason it caught my attention is that it is such a great illustration of a somewhat new “challenge” that has hit the retail world, and one that I work to help many dealers with – showrooming. I talk about showrooming and how it is affecting dealerships a lot – but sometimes the concept itself doesn’t sink in. Perhaps it’s because customers aren’t as direct as the lady in the cartoon. Maybe some dealers just don’t see customers using their smartphones to compare prices while still sitting right in the showroom, or out on the lot. But I guarantee you it is happening all the time. In fact, over 60 percent of customers visiting an auto dealer's lot will use their smartphones to simultaneously shop the competition. And two thirds of those will leave that dealership and visit another store within a day. This is showrooming

This cartoon perfectly illustrates the concept. No doubt you’ve comparison priced items at one point – whether that was a television, refrigerator, or even just a book. All of us want a good deal. Amazon makes it very easy with their app. All you have to do is scan a bar code and you’ll have the online price. There are other apps that will even show you the prices at multiple stores.

I have no doubt that some entrepreneur will someday create an app that will allow car shoppers to accomplish a similar result simply by using their phone to scan a VIN. Heck, we have already built our solution to incentivize a customer  and allow them to text our dealer while sitting in a competitive dealership.  

This is what’s happening in retail on a daily basis – and has been for a while now. Consumers are realizing that they can price shop a car dealership just as easily as can shop for anything else. And that’s why it’s important to find ways to keep that customer in your dealership. And, if you feel even more enterprising, find an effective way to lure the customer shopping your inventory while at your competitor, into YOUR showroom, and away from theirs.