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Mobile Showrooming – Friend or Foe?

While the industry has been grappling with how to curb cell phone usage on the salon floor, they may have ignored the growing trend of mobile shopping. In a blended service/retail model, it makes sense that more attention was placed on how mobile phones were affecting the service, however it may be shortchanging the customer experience and your business.

Mobile phones are a reality in many aspects of daily life and we’ve ensured our website, emails, booking systems and communications are mobile-friendly; but what about the retail experience? Mobile shopping has seen a steady increase over the past five years, with mobile internet browsing surpassing desktop internet browsing in 2014. Why does this matter? Because by nature, the consumer searching on a mobile device is more active than on a desktop. In fact, according to a study by Juniper Research, mobile devices will account for 30 percent of global retail e-commerce spending by 2018, up from 15 percent in 2013. Despite all indications, a gap remains between the salon experience and the mobile experience.

While some owners of brick and mortar businesses, like the hair and beauty industry, rebel against the impending change, the fact remains that mobile showrooming has been on the rise as smartphone ownership became dominant in the phone market. Mobile showrooming, or the practice of searching for cheaper competitors online whilst in the store environment, was deemed to be the last straw for brick and mortar business a few years ago. How could the local salon compete with Amazon prices, after all?

Before boxing up your retail shelves, consider this: the client is in your shop to begin with. Why not use this to your advantage and also utilize strategies that capitalize on the mobile-addicted? Can’t beat them; join them.

That’s what many major retailers are doing and its paying off. The Interactive Advertising Bureau found that 42% of consumers using a mobile device while in-store spent more than $1,000, while just 21% of shoppers without a phone spend as much. Why is this? Buyers use their mobile phones for evaluation during the purchasing process. It can add a layer of confidence to the purchase process, even for a puck of pomade. In fact, mobile showrooming can actually assist in delivering a great in-salon experience can reclaim some of that revenue that has wandered onto and open your business up to a new generation of consumers.

Retailers are embracing mobile technology beyond price matching and QR code shelf talkers as well. Wrapping m-commerce into your e-commerce strategy can streamline your retail process in the store, in-chair checkout makes the time poor client appreciate your consideration and geo-targeted advertising can bring users into your salon with incentives. Even Facebook Ads are in on the proximity-advertising game, making it easy to get into at even a small scale to test at one of your stores.

How important is m-commerce at the moment? According to Flurry Mobile, m-commerce currently only represents 1 percent of the $3.25 trillion U.S. retail spending market, but as retailers in the daily commodity markets begin to jump on the Apply Pay bandwagon, we can certainly expect for m-commerce to increase as retailers in the low-price, repeat purchase sectors set the standard. When will that hit the hair and beauty market? Tough to tell, but it’s crucial for leaders of salon and spa groups to stay ahead of consumer expectations before they lose out to market entrants that appeal to the tech-savvy Millennial, whom continue to assume a larger percentage of total purchasing power.

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