What to do when shop local turns into look local and buy online?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from The Retail Doctor’s Blog.
A recent Facebook LIVE video I conducted with some mom & pops led to many questions around a new trend some call shop local but buy online.
The first asked, “What’s the best way to approach a customer you hear saying to their child, ‘No we are not buying that here…just take a picture…I’m positive you can get it cheaper on Amazon?’”
Another asked, “I would love to have a tactful response to when customers say they will just order something online from elsewhere. I’m always too gobsmacked to respond. I’d like to explain that we aren’t a showroom and that we feed our kids with our business, but I don’t want to sound defensive or whiny.”
Here are some options:
- Charge a fee. If you carry something that needs to be fitted, charge a fitting fee. Explain that when they buy it, the fee is waived.
- Put up guilt signs. Many feel if shoppers only realized the consequences for you, they would change their ways. Sadly, these new consumers know exactly what they are doing. Education isn’t the problem.
- Tell them they’re rude. Frankly, if someone I spent 20 minutes with suddenly whipped out a smartphone, took a picture of the item I’d found for them, and then told me they were going to buy it online — not from me — I’d tell them they were rude and to not come back. Yes, generally the customer is always right, but this isn’t a customer we’re talking about.
- Call your manufacturers. Buy less from vendors that don’t listen to your complaints about shoppers being able to buy online for prices lower than you can charge at wholesale. Band together with other stores.
- Home delivery: Offer free shipping or local delivery for awkward or heavy things like dog food that people don’t want to carry home.
I realize there is no one answer for how to handle this, but the only way forward is to make a relationship. Friends don’t take up your time and then snap a picture.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How should local retailers respond to customers obviously shopping in a store only to purchase online? Are high-service stores more likely to get hurt by showrooming than benefit from webrooming?