The Showrooming-Waiting Line Connection

May 01, 2013Perry Kuklin

Showrooming is a thorn in the side of retailers, but customers might have an equally painful beef with brick and mortar shopping. It’s called standing in line. Now we’re not suggesting that waiting lines are the reason for the showrooming phenomena in which customers peruse a retail store to look, touch, and try products only to ultimately buy online; but we ARE suggesting that retailers might be wise to consider all the ways in which to make the experience of shopping and buying in-store more satisfying.

Showrooming is a reality, so it’s crucial to accept the phenomena and figure out how to rise above it or, at the very least, co-exist.

Common suggestions to combat showrooming include shop online/pick-up-in-store options, and consistent pricing and promotions. But how many times do customers look at the waiting line and turn to the exit thinking they’ll just “order it online” and have it shipped directly to their home? When you factor in the free shipping option that many online stores have built in, going to the web can be a no-brainer if the alternative is an annoying and time-consuming in-person wait. Waiting lines can be made faster and less painful with some common sense strategies. These include:  

1. Keeping people occupied in line.

in-line merchandising

In-line merchandising gives customers the opportunity to continue their shopping trip while waiting, thereby increasing the odds of impulse purchases. And simply having merchandise to focus on rather than the wait alone is a powerful way to distract customers. There’s also digital signage, which gives people something to look at while also encouraging impulse sales. Digital signage can be used to entertain and engage waiting customers by showing promotional stills, informational videos, or even cartoons (depending on the type of retailer you are, some people are more concerned about keeping the kids occupied than themselves and will thank you for the assistance – act accordingly).  

2. Making the line more efficient.

electronic call-forward queuing

Using electronic call-forward queuing to direct customers to the next available service station boosts server efficiency. There is no downtime between customers – as soon as one person has checked out, it’s on to the next, and this is good for the retailer and the customers. Electronic queuing also gives people permission to forget that they’re standing in line. Audio and visual cues notify customers that it’s their turn so they don’t have to focus on the wait; they can trust that their turn is coming and they’ll be notified when it is.

3. Getting rid of the line altogether.

virtual queuing

Eliminating the confinement of the wait with virtual queuing can remove the sting of the waiting line by allowing customers to wait while continuing to shop. When you think about it, a virtual queue is similar to the attraction of online shopping. You can fill your cart and claim your place in the queue, but you have the freedom to roam around other “sites” if you please, or just check your email or catch up on the news before you finally make your purchases. Giving customers the freedom to do what they want – while still knowing that they have a place in line – without being held “hostage” in a queue is a powerful combatant to showrooming.   Showrooming is a reality, so it’s crucial to accept the phenomena and figure out how to rise above it or, at the very least, co-exist. The above queue management methods are viable options for increasing customers’ in-store happiness. It’s also important to focus on the quality of customer service and consider what mobile options are do-able to make you a greater competitor in the fight against showrooming. Speak with a Lavi expert to determine your best game plan.

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