Saturday, October 19, 2013

Entertain in the Showroom

Your retail store’s operating on a different scale than Las Vegas showrooms. The showroom at the Bellagio holds 1,800 people, the one at Caesars Palace seats 4,100, and Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s claims to be available for parties of up to 12,000.
     Still, your store and those showrooms do share a common objective: Entertain the consumer.
     That’s become a prevailing mantra for retailer Williams-Sonoma. Because Williams-Sonoma carries high-priced niche merchandise, they didn’t worry much about showrooming. This is the term applied to consumers coming into your store, draining the brains of you and your staff for advice and training, and then leaving your store to make the purchase online. Or maybe not even leaving your store, but rather using a mobile phone to scan the UPC code from a package on your store’s shelves and placing the online order while standing right there.
     Williams-Sonoma management figured their target consumers wouldn’t be able to find the $249.95 knives or $699.95 espresso machines online. They were right, but not in the way they intended. Shoppers didn’t find those or similar items at those prices. They found them online at substantially lower prices. Williams-Sonoma stores collectively posted same-store sales declines for five of seven consecutive calendar quarters.
     The answer was to up the in-store entertainment. “Retail is theater,” Chief Executive Officer Laura Alber was quoted as saying. For Williams-Sonoma, this meant more food tastings, more demonstrations of how to use the merchandise, and more cooking lessons from famous chefs.
     For your store, the entertainment might be of a different sort. Whatever it is, there’s another lesson from the Las Vegas showrooms: Consider having a cover charge. The Boulder Book Store in Boulder, Colorado has charged $5 to attend book signings. At R. J. Julia in Madison, Connecticut, about 10% of the store revenue has come from charges for the approximately 200 annual events.
     Clothiers could charge for fashion shows, grocery stores for cooking demonstrations, sporting goods stores for celebrity appearances. The name “cover charge” fits especially well when the income covers the out-of-pocket expenses the retailer incurs in setting up the event and perhaps paying for the guest to appear.
     From a shopper psychology perspective, there’s evidence that charging a fee in itself lends value to the entertainment. When the price is zero, the consumer lacks a comparison point.

For your profitability: Sell Well: What Really Moves Your Shoppers

Click below for more: 
Showboat a Bit with Showrooming Shoppers 
Levy a Cover Charge for Store Entertainment 
Bet on Consumers Wanting Turnkey Experiences

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