Retailers seem to be trying it all to survive these tumultuous times in the industry. Staples Inc. (SPLS) is launching cooperative workspace areas, Coach Inc. (COH) is offering embroidery services and Abercrombie & Fitch Co. (ANF) is installing lounge-like fitting rooms with customer-controlled lights and music.
In the next effort to keep customers flowing into brick-and-mortar stores, retailers are poised to turn to a showroom trend, according to Retail Dive. It’s a concept that resembles the retail model used in mattress, furniture and automotive showrooms in that customers can see and touch the merchandise in-person, but they cannot buy the product in the store. Instead, their merchandise is shipped to their house.
Retailing stocks lag the broader market, with the S&P Retail Select Industry Index (SPSIRE) down 3.3% in the last 12 months compared to a 14.7% gain in the S&P 500 (SPX).
Showrooms are likely the next hot trend because many consumers are already using stores in that way – looking at the merchandise in-person, then scouring for the best deal online. (See also: Retailers Step Up Shopping Experience.)
“Showrooms is another step to better cater to consumer needs,” Andres Mendoza-Pena, a partner at retail-consulting firm A.T. Kearney, told Retail Dive. “Consumers prefer to engage with brands online for research and transactions … But even when they transact online, two-thirds of the time they have used a store prior to, or after, the purchase.”
In apparel retailing, the showroom concept is new. Retailers in this field need to take extra steps to make showrooms conducive to just browsing and not buying by creating a welcoming, comfortable environment. Mendoza-Pena said that retailers that stand to benefit the most from showrooming are those that are primarily selling online and need a physical presence. These retailers could boost sales by five to eight times, he said.