Reverse Showrooming: How Retailers are Using Their Online Presence to Get You Back In Stores


Share on LinkedIn

A couple of years ago, the term showrooming was coined to describe the activity of some shoppers who would go to a store to look at a product and then use their mobile device to buy the product online. But today, a new trend called reverse showrooming is emerging, which describes how brick and mortar retailers are using mobile technology to enhance their in-store experience. These retailers are using it to get you out of their virtual store and back into the actual store.

Recapping the Journey to Reverse Showrooming

Let’s recap the journey to reverse showrooming, starting with data mining. Data mining was a brilliant move by retailers to identify key indicators for live events in a shoppers life when important supplier decisions are made and using these indicators as a way to know when to target a particular customer for additional marketing.

In our post about data mining, we describe how Target used this data to “target” women who may be pregnant, so that they could become their number one go-to store for their families. Their use of data mining was so good, that they knew a man’s 16-year-old daughter was pregnant before he did.

Now jump to a year or so later, as the rise of smartphones is more and more prevalent. Showrooming rears its ugly head. As more and more customers had access to the web when they were in a retail outlet, they harnessed its power to find the best price on the good or service they were shopping for in the store. Then they would buy the product online and leave the store, making no purchase. Retailers tried to come up with ways to deter shoppers from doing it by dropping prices, blocking access to the web in stores and other activities that didn’t really work.

Which brings us to today, when retailers realize that there was some wisdom to the old adage, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” They are using the power of the mobile device to their advantage. Or in other words, Brick and mortar stores are embracing their online presence to draw customers back into the stores.

What Customers Want From Retail in an Infographic

A recent article on talked about how retailers are doing this and getting more people back in the stores…and buying things there.

This graphic does a great job of telling retailers what customers want as it pertains to a retail experience. Not surprisingly, they want knowledgeable sales associates.

They also want to be able to pay easily, as in no 20-minute check out line. Are you listening Wal-Mart? Probably not…

But there in the middle, the shoppers say, they want personalized offers delivered to them through their mobile device. Although in not so many words they say, “we want you to data mine us.” And if that isn’t enough, they also say they want you to give them access to personalized deals through social media.

If you look at the last column, access to Wi-Fi to comparison shop (the gateway to showrooming at one time blocked by retailers) is important to a large enough section of the shoppers surveyed that it made the graph at 14%.

Retailers Are Maximizing Their Advantages with Reverse Showrooming

Retailers are using their advantages to draw in customers to their stores. From offering free Wi-Fi to give shoppers access to their online apps to sending personalized offers directly to shoppers smart phones for in-store redemption, retailers are fighting back against online retailers with their strengths.

If online retailers have the benefit of offering it cheaper, retailers have the opportunity to train salespeople to be more helpful and create a better customer experience, which has been proven to outweigh the benefit of a low price time and time again. And of course, there is no denying that if you eliminate the hassles of checkout at a store, the idea that you leave with the item you were looking for that moment is a strength that retailers have over online sources no matter how cheap online prices are and how swift their free shipping is.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


  1. Very interesting article. It raises a key question for me. How do brick and mortar stores bridge the gap between themselves and the online stores on the variety of products stocked. I have often used a stores knowledgable staff (knowing there is a cost to the business to develop this knowledge) to determine the right product then sourced the product online across multiple retailers. Armed with the knowledge from the store visit, I’ve selected the best priced product for my situation from a much larger range of options than a single retailer might stock. In this area, better online knowledge base with the option to speak to a person might have kept me out of the store but provided the same result.

    I agree that consumers want the best product, at the best price, in the quickest possible time. The ideal being same day, which is achieved through buying in store. However, for me this also points to improved methods of delivery, cutting down the time from purchase to goods received. This in mind the ideal for me would be more retailers offering free buy to collect same day or next day services across larger ranges but maintaining competitive prices across those ranges and quick pickup processes in store.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here