Showrooming is Why the Retail Business needs Design Thinking

By Brian Ling February 7, 2013


I chuckled at Tom Fishburne’s Showrooming cartoon, partly because it was funny, and partly because it was so true. I do that all the time in bookstores; flip through the hardcopy and then buy the ebook.

Unfortunately the Retailers still don’t get it, and brands like Borders will continue to drop like flies.

One of the biggest threats to traditional retail is “showrooming”, where consumers check out products in a store, but then go online to buy.

When the Internet first happened, retailers complained that their customers could compare prices and product before they buy. But the retailers did nothing.

Now with shopping powerhouses such as Amazon or eBay, retailers are now complaining that customers are coming to their store to try out their goods, but will eventually buy it cheaper online. But will they do anything? Probably not.

A great example is a local shoe retailer of a popular sandal brand refusing to service younger customers, as they suspect they are Showrooming. They don’t bother dealing with the Showrooming issue but instead decided to outright ignore their request to try their products on.

What’s more challenging is that with services like Trip Advisor, GoodReads, Amazon’s 5-Star ranking, or even with just basic Google search, customers are going to be much more discerning and demanding with what is going to be on the shelf.

I almost think that Retailers will need to become a trusted Curator, and that is just the first step.

Whatever it is, it is obvious that the customer’s shopping habits are very different today then it was 10 years ago. Design Thinking with its user centered problem solving methodology is a perfect tool for retailers to better understand their customer’s shopping motivations and the role they will play in their customer’s buying process.

Cartoon via: Marketoonist

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Brian Ling

Brian is the Founder and Design Director at Design Sojourn, a Design Led Innovation Consultancy. He is a multi-award winning design leader, and specialises in strategic design and innovation programs that drive successful organisations. Brian’s 20-year career in design, driven through a deep understanding of human behavior, spans over multiple domains such as consumer electronics, government, healthcare, non-profit agencies, hospitality, F&B, retail, online solutions and best in class service experiences.

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I thought many people are guilty of that. What do you think are the possible ways to curb this problem? Bricks and mortar stores are suffering from it and some of them have moved online and offering special promos online.


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