Tammy Wilson from Boise, Idaho, wants to buy a new bed because the one she’s sleeping on now is killing her back. She starts her process and is immediately confused because most mattresses have different names at different retailers, many look the same, there are 30 to 40 to pick from, and it isn’t just springs these days—there are so many different options out there. Is this confusion good for our industry? Tammy doesn’t think so and that’s why she’s armed with a smartphone.
Many consumers today are turning to the Internet for answers. Take a look at this clip of Sleep Geeks at the 2012 Furniture Today Bedding Conference, talking about the impact of people shopping online.
Not only are people shopping before they get into your store, they are engaging in a practice commonly known as “showrooming,” where they compare products or just go in search of information that is going to assist them in the decision making process. So how is your company addressing this consumer trend? Does showrooming help the mattress industry or hurt it when the consumer quickly finds out that most mattress products are incredibly difficult to shop for? Showrooming can be both good and bad for a retailer or a brand; the choice is yours.
Consider the following:
- Does your store utilize QR codes to make it easy for consumers to use their smartphones to learn more about the product?
- Does your product have marketing materials that can be found online that take the mystery out of the shopping experience?
- Are you providing shoppers with content that is relevant to what they want to learn about? Are you trying to arm them with good information to make an informed decision?
- Is your sales team prepared to explain why the product is priced higher? Do they know how to build value in the benefits of buying from a local store versus online?
You don’t have to like it when consumers showroom, you just need to understand that it is happening and if you are not paying attention you are going to miss out on sales. A recent poll by 911 ClickIQ showed that of consumers who shop online and in brick and mortar stores, 46% shopped a local store and later purchased online. Is this happening to you?
It’s a hard reality to face. Consumers have access to more information today than ever before. The shopping process is much more transparent and you need to be ready for it. Technology is changing EVERYTHING and this is no exception, so you can embrace it or just go back into your office, fire up the old Commodore 64 and play some Pong. Whatever you choose, it isn’t going away! Tammy from Boise, Idaho, is everywhere and she’s armed with a smartphone.
Do you showroom? How about your kids? Are you prepared for this type of consumer?
Yes, retailers can do all that to try to assuage showrooming shoppers. But is it enough?
I predict showrooming will be the downfall of the tricky way mattress retailers merchandise their floors–all the same bed brands as their competitors, the difference being the beds have different collection names and fabric covers.
Consumers are fed up with that and it’s one of reasons they dread mattress shopping and feel like they’re getting ripped off all the time.
“Authenticity” and “transparency” are today’s biggest catchwords in business. I’m just wondering when the mattress industry is going to catch on.
One of the reasons Tempurpedic and Select Comfort were successful and have inspired some brand loyalty is their defined product lineup.
Jim took the words right out of my mouth — spot on.
We get showroomed a lot where I work, though I have noticed that even here in Los Angeles, certain locations will get “showroomed” more than others.
We have a location near Hollywood which is situated in an astonishingly high internet-savvy demographic (one of the highest in the entire country according to our Serta rep) and people practically walk right in with their comparison prices already loaded up on their smartphone.
But just a 20-25 minute drive away, our Long Beach store apparently sits in a pretty low internet activity demographic, and is showroomed MUCH less. It still happens though, just not nearly at the same frequency.
One saving grace for the industry is that even though people are showrooming mattresses, online mattress purchases are still a fairly low percentage of total mattress purchases, Tempur-pedic aside. Us-mattress dot com has a blurb on their site saying that only 1% of their visitors buy online (which I suppose is a typical online conversion rate anyway.)
I do know from interacting with people every day, that slightly older customers (35+) DO actually prefer to buy locally. They’d prefer to buy a mattress after actually trying it out, and most of them feel good about supporting a local brick-and-mortar business.
Younger customers (20-somethings) tend to not care at all, reflecting a disappointing generational difference. Younger folks are growing up in a hyper-competitive price based economy, and they know that there is always someone else selling the same thing for a little bit less, and they have access to that information at the press of a button. We have little choice but to match or beat the internet prices to get their business — because if we don’t than we know someone else will.
I predict the business model will eventually change, moving away from a strictly brick and mortar based model, and more towards a hybrid internet/brick and mortar based model, with the focus on the internet side rather than the physical locations. With greedy landlords getting out of control with rent increases, business owners will eventually realize “Who needs this crap?” and move towards a customer friendly internet model with easy return policies, save thousands of dollars on rent and probably even see an increase in volume.
I just wish the manufacturers would join Tempurpedic and have consistent model names and do better jobs enforcing MSRP policies. Can’t they help retailers out more with this new trend?