Friday, July 6, 2012

Retailers are giving customers more ways to try before they buy.

Product and price parity are real concerns for merchants. Private-label goods and merchandise exclusives offer some hope, but many agree that’s not enough to survive, much less thrive in the current economy.

But there are new stressors on bricks-and-mortar retailers, as well. The Internet Age has given way to the “showrooming” era, where customers check products and prices in physical stores and then go online to find the lowest price. That has retailers rethinking terrestrial store strategies. Specifically, industry watchers say, retailers need to find ways to get customers into stores and convert them from browsers to buyers. They’ll need to concentrate on in-store experiences that can’t be replicated virtually.

Consultant Paco Underhill says some customers are reluctant to buy beyond the basics for many reasons. Underhill, the founder of behavioral research and consulting firm Envirosell, says value is front-and-center: Shoppers often worry that when they finally do buy, the item might go on sale the next day.

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