SPoS: The End Of Showrooming (And Webrooming)

Below is a blog post about showrooming and webrooming from Six Pixels of Separation by TwistImage. What are your thoughts about webrooming? In my opinion, the building supply industry dominates the decking and windows’ categories. How is your company marketing about webrooming? Are you reinforcing multi-channel mindset? Or are you stuck in a silo mindset?

The End Of Showrooming (And Webrooming)

We are never going to solve for true consumer-centricity, if we keep acting like this.

First, we had “showrooming.” Showrooming is when a consumer goes to a physical location and uses a mobile device to either compare prices with other retailers or complete their transaction with another retailer (even later at home). Showrooming has been a headache for retailers for several years – and continues to be a challenge – as more mobile devices become increasingly connected and pervasive for consumers. Now, we have “webrooming.” Webrooming is when consumers are researching online and buying in physical stores.

Brands… we have a problem.

Let’s all take a step back and think about this… for just a second: consumers have devices (computers, laptops, mobile, smartphones, tablets, Google Glass, whatever). These devices are connected and give them access to both information and the ability to buy in a twenty-four-seven scenario. It’s an always open retail landscape. They don’t need for a store to be open in their local neighborhood to get information about a product or service, and they don’t have to wait to buy something during regular/traditional store hours. While retailers may not like the fact that they have this kind of access to information and inventory, it doesn’t look like it’s going away any time soon (especially, if Jeff Bezos and Amazon have anything to do with it). When was the last time you were confused about a potential product that you were interested in? Have you ever hopped over to YouTube and searched on it? Outstanding, isn’t it? The in-depth reviews, discourse and additional information is astounding (and, that’s just YouTube). So, why even bother calling it showrooming or webrooming?

It’s just shopping, isn’t it?

Brands struggled to build what they have called an omni-channel environment. How does a brand move from multi-channel (stores, catalogues, Web,) to omni-channel in our digital age? Take a look at the AdWeek article, Study Shows Prevalence of Consumer ‘Webrooming’, and think deeply about what it is telling us. Webrooming and showrooming are just new terms and ideologies that reinforce the multi-channel mindset. In reality – if you break down the channels, remove the silos and really think about it – the advent of these activities are simply the consumer leading a true omni-channel life. Consumers don’t stop and think about a separation between a physical store, the website, the mobile experience, how the brand interacts on social media and beyond. Every interaction with them is either an investment (or divestment) in the brand. Retailers and marketers can keep making up terms, writing white papers, building infographics and more to reinforce just how much the consumer has adapted, but what we really have is an omni-channel consumer in a world where brands are (sadly) still thinking in a multi-channel way.

What’s a brand to do? 

In my second business book, CTRL ALT Delete, I dig deep into the notion of the one screen world. This isn’t about physical, TV, computer and mobile devices. Screens are everywhere. They are connected, cheap, ubiquitous and easy to use (and this is only going to increase as the Internet of Things becomes a reality and all devices are connected in one way, shape or form). So, instead of thinking about a Web strategy, an e-commerce strategy, a social media strategy, a mobile strategy, etc… why not build, develop and deploy a one screen world strategy? Build a strategy that embraces and understands the contextual reality of consumers in 2014. We can call these things whatever we like: showrooming, webrooming or whatever. The truth is that it’s all hyperbole. Consumers are doing what consumers do best: trying to get the best deal from brands that they want to deal with. The more brands try to turn everything into it’s own unique and different channel, the more they are going to struggle with the realities of business in this day and age. The more they are going to build a multi-channel environment, while thinking that they’re building an omni-channel one.

Don’t call it showrooming or webrooming. Call it what it is: shopping.


Guide to Webrooming




The Thank You Economy

The Thank You Economy by garyvee
Image by turoczy via Flickr

I read The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk. The book is a good refresher on business strategy. Below is an excerpt from the book with my links on his topics.

 The Thank You Economy

Being self-aware

Mentally committing to change

Setting the tone through your words and actions

Investing in your employees Retailers Should Invest More in Employees

Hiring culturally compatible DNA, and spotting it within your existing team

Being authentic-whether online or offline, say what you mean, and mean what you say

Empowering your people to be forthright, creative, and generous Leadership Tips to Get You Started

Wise Up, Lumberyards: Smartphones Aren’t Going Away

Below is an article from FastCo. Design. What are you doing about smartphones in your Lumberyard? Are you embracing the new customer?

Wise Up, Retailers: Smartphones Aren’t Going Away

Walt Disney
Walt Disney

Rather than fearing in-aisle smartphone usage, retailers should embrace and support it. Only then will they eventually win back control of their stores.

I recently asked an audience of technology buffs how many of them used their smartphones to help them shop in physical retail stores. Over half of the hands shot up. Now for the surprise. “Those with your hands up, please keep them up if a salesperson has ever asked to help you to shop with your smartphone in any way.” All of the hands went down.

Their response mirrors a discrepancy that prevails more generally across the U.S.today (even among non-techies): Customers increasingly use smartphones in stores to help them shop, but the brick-and-mortar retailers are ignoring them.

We can’t go on like this much longer. For one thing, the retailers have no choice: In-aisle smartphone usage is here to stay. One in four Americans taps into the mobile Internet (or about 75 million, according to Forrester’s Melissa Parrish). That number is roughly equivalent to the population of the U.S. eastern seaboard. Most of them own smartphones, and the vast majority of them (84%, according to our own recent survey) use those devices to help them accomplish at least one kind of activity related to shopping, such as searching for product information, taking photos as memory aids, checking prices, or “checking-in” to a location-based service. Barcode scanning and QR, or Quick Response, code scanning is not only popular but sticky: 85% of people we surveyed use their phones to scan products today at least as often as when they first tried it out.

So if there is no chance at all that this is all going to blow over, how come more brick-and-mortar retailers aren’t exploiting this new medium — say, to drive sales? In most cases because they are doing their best to clamber out of the recession: managing prices, inventory and costs, as consumers trade down and buy cheaper. In this context, mobile technology plays into their worst fears: “scan and scram,” as the practice is rather dismally known. Or as a smartphone shopper in our observational field research described his personal experience, “You feel like you’re kind of cheating the store by doing one of these [holds up phone as if to scan a barcode]. Because it’s as if you’re going to hold [the product], and look at it, but not buy it here.”

So consumers and retailers are at odds on the whole subject of in-aisle smartphone shopping: with consumers loving it, wanting it, needing it, and retailers, by and large, hesitating to support it.

Even the most innovative retailers like Best Buy, which stakes brand equity on the success of its in-aisle mobile experience, still provide almost no physical support for it. Its QR code hangtag system, for instance, is progressive. Scan a product code with your phone, and you get instant product reviews and other detailed information. But as a whole, from a customer experience perspective, it’s far too tentative. There are no on-shelf instructions (e.g., how to use a QR code, how to distinguish a UPC code from an internal company barcode); no in-store signage about the Best Buy mobile app; and little, if any, staff advocacy.

Most crucially, an attitude of explicit support for mobile shopping does not shape store culture among any brick-and-mortar retailers, including Best Buy. In its absence, a large swath of consumers is able to imagine that the relationship with retailers is not just ethically ambiguous but positively adversarial. Over a third of in-aisle smartphone users we polled said they felt at least somewhat “self-conscious” about scanning a barcode or QR code with a salesperson nearby.

Fortunately, we know pretty much how this is all going to turn out. Think back to where social media was only in 2006, when photos circulated on the Internet of a Dell laptop ablaze after exploding at a conference in Osaka, Japan. Dell recalled the Sony-made batteries but was initially slow to respond to angry bloggers. Then it formed a social media team, which found that if they singled out influential blogs and commented on negative posts with helpful links to the recall site, the grateful blog owners took on the rest of the damage control for them, evangelizing Dell’s good deeds to their own flock of readers on Dell’s behalf.

Then, as now, you’ve got to go with the flow. Dell responded effectively only because it understood that the days of its monolithic control over its messaging was over. Similarly, for retailers, the only way out, is through. They will eventually win back their aisles, but only when they can accept that they no longer fully control them. At that point, the current “moral discomfort” of both retailers and smartphone-equipped customers will fade into the past: growing pains of a new practice for which norms have not been agreed upon.

This is a future that innovative retailers should want to embrace now, rather than later. Because with change, comes opportunity. Those who get in the game today can differentiate themselves, powerfully, by positive association with the new technology. Simply asking, “Did you know you can use your smartphone to help you shop here today?” will go a long way to set the relationship back on the right path. One of the great brand-building moments of the next decade is available, right now, to the first company who can design a place that shouts “smartphones welcome here.” The chance will not come again.

Marketing is not a Department


Cover of "Rework"
Cover of Rework


Below is an excerpt from the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson:

Marketing is not a department

Do you have a marketing department? If not, good. If you do, don’t think these are the only people responsible for marketing. Accounting is a department. Marketing isn’t. Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/7/365.

Just as you cannot not communicate, you cannot not market:

• Every time you answer the phone, it’s marketing.

• Every time you send an e-mail, it’s marketing.

• Every time someone uses your product, it’s marketing.

• “Every word you write on your Web site is marketing.

• If you build software, every error message is marketing.

• If you’re in the restaurant business, the after-dinner mint is   marketing.

• If you’re in the retail business, the checkout counter is marketing.

• If you’re in a service business, your invoice is marketing.

Recognize that all of these little things are more important than choosing which piece of swag to throw into a conference goodie bag. Marketing isn’t just a few individual events. It’s the sum total of everything you do.