New TouchStore solution says “in your face” to showrooming threat


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There’s been a lot of press about “showrooming” the past couple of years. Traditional retailers are worried that customers will use their expensive stores to check out their wares, then find a cheaper source online.

With mobile phones it’s all too easy to price shop, look at reviews and decide if the brick-and-mortar shop is giving a good deal. If not, consumers can order online via their mobile phone, and that’s a lost sale walking out the door.

Is showrooming a real issue? I think so, but perhaps a bit overblown. Electronics retailers like Best Buy are probably the most likely to be at risk. Clothing retailers not so much.

In any case, mobile-empowered shoppers have spurred store-based retailers to be more price competitive, in some cases going so far as to match Amazon’s pricing. But this isn’t a winning strategy — retailers also need to provide real differentiation via their in-store experience. That means the store and its staff must provide enough value to convince a consumer to buy now and take the goods home, even if the price is a bit more than can be found online.

Thus far, most retailers have looked at smartphones as a threat. But they can also be a tool to add value to the in-store experience. That’s the key idea behind a new “TouchStore” solution announced today by TouchCommerce, aimed at increasing consumer engagement and conversion.

Imagine you’re shopping at a store and need some help. That’s an expensive but critical asset for the store. With TouchStore, a consumer can get the same kind of personalized help via a chat-like interface, that they could get via an online shopping site. Kind of like Amazon’s “Mayday” service, but available to help real-world shoppers.

Here’s a screen shot to show what that might look like:

Source: TouchCommerce
Source: TouchCommerce

The worm has turned! Consumers can engage with retailer or manufacturer experts by scanning a QR code or sending a text message. That gives the retailer some of the efficiencies enjoyed by e-commerce sites by sharing expensive staff across many stores.

I could see applications in retailers like Best Buy, still my favorite electronics retailer despite some challenges in recent years. I don’t mind paying a bit more if I can get expert help on more complex items. This sort of solution, if implemented and promoted properly, could enable Best Buy and other retailers to improve the in-store experience, increase sales and manage costs. Take that, Amazon!

Disclosure: This post is part on my independent coverage of technology industry developments. No endorsement is implied for any vendors mentioned in this post. Please visit our sponsor page for information on companies that have supported this community.


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