More and more, I have been reading about (graphic from eMarketer below) the concerns retailers have about “showrooming,” a concept that customers use brick and mortar stores to find products and search online later, or on their mobiledevice while at the store, to see if they can find a better deal. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve done it. Should retailers be concerned about this, and how can they harness multichannel technologies to combat what many are considering a shopping epidemic?

1. Incentivize in-store purchasing with technology

Once a customer is in the door, you have already won half of the battle, but how do you make it so they won’t leave and purchase elsewhere? Assuming that the customers on their mobile devices, give them something to scan! In-store QR codes or creative displays that lead to a discounts on popular products can help spur decision-making. Showrooming doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you make the mobile experience part of your in-store experience. Use the QR codes and incentives to gather data about your consumer while they are in-store and email them a better deal later if they don’t convert in-store. With each scan or special offer opt-in, gather purchase preferences and follow up when they are out of the door.

 2. Help control the mobile experience while in-store

With data plans and prices on the rise, the savvy storeowner can utilize in-store wifi to their advantage. By offering wifi, the practitioner not only invites the shopper to compare prices, but also can control that experience. The lure is having the customer not waste valuable data by connecting to the in-store wifi instead of cellular data. The restrictions imposed by the network can limit couponing, limited offers from competitors and other tactics that might have the customer leave empty handed. Change the mobile experience while the customer is in-store by providing a gateway to wifi access that showcases weekly promotions before access is granted.

 3. Consider a price-matching framework

Become more knowledgeable about the best prices online and beat them to the punch! Emphasize shipping costs and the immediacy of an in-store purchase. Offer bundled deals that are only available in-store. Integrate social networking and check-ins to special deals. With Yelp, FourSquare and of course, Twitter and Facebook, shoppers have the opportunity to bring in new customers for you! People want to use their mobile for more than just price-checking. By encouraging sharing and incentives for announcing their presence in your store, you will be on the minds of all the followers and “friends” of your in-store patrons.

So rather than worrying about all of your customers checking prices online against your in-store deals, embrace the experience! Help shape how customers use their mobile devices in your store and incentivize them doing so instead of considering it a bane. More people will leave with a product under their arm if you recognize the rapid pace of technology!