May 9, 2014
The practice of showrooming continues to plague retailers, and seems to be building in frequency. According to Forbes Business blogger Brian K. Walker, senior vice president for strategy at Hybris Software, “There is a crisis in retail. During the 2013 holiday shopping season, U.S. retailers received approximately half the holiday foot traffic they experienced just three years ago, according to ShopperTrak.” Recent data from Forrester Research shows that 56 percent of consumers have used a mobile device to research products at home, 38 percent have used a mobile device to check inventory availability while on their way to a store and 34 percent have used a mobile device to research products while in a store.
But snow sports retailers have an edge. They are an innovative, savvy group with a never-say-die spirit, and their big advantage is with their customer base, which tends to be more passionate, enthusiastic and lifestyle-driven than in other industries. Most snow sports retailers know the ins and outs of building a loyal customer base better than any other type of retailer out there. Our past articles about showrooming have focused on customer service and service programs that shops have implemented to bring customers into the store. But there are many facets to providing customers with the experience they’re looking for to keep them coming back to brick and mortar retailers.
Raul Pinto, co-owner of Satellite Board Shop, said that for his shop, the most important aspect is reflecting the snowboard lifestyle. “We can’t do all of the same things that big corporations like Amazon can, like offer unconditional returns, but it’s not in snowboarding’s best interest to do those things,” he said. “Instead we focus on those customers who are interested in the lifestyle aspect and who want to come into the shop and be a part of it.”
For that group, he considers it his job to provide the total lifestyle experience that they’re looking for. “We’re lucky because we’re on the new front of selling lifestyle back into the sport. Tons of shops have closed in past years because they couldn’t compete with the internet and big box stores, but I believe that’s because they lost sight of the passionate lifestyle customer. Ski shops were selling snowboards just to get on the bandwagon, but they didn’t have knowledgeable sales people, so people were not able to progress and they dropped out. I think as the new guard, it’s our job to make sure the experience is always really positive. That comes down to making sure the look of our shop reflects the lifestyle, and to the personalities and the expertise you can offer in the shop. That’s something that you simply can’t fake.”