Showrooming, much like many other perceived threats in retail, must be seen as an opportunity, not as a negative. Arguably, the challenges that showrooming has created for retailers are relative to price transparency and finding a place and role within the consumer’s mind that will be superior to the online retailer (remembering that many online retailers can offer broader assortments, 24/7 convenience and shopping accessibility).
1. Embrace the Reality
The first point is “Embrace the Reality.” The hours and energy that corporate resources spend to argue “denial” are understandable, yet that is the most dangerous reaction to showrooming. The thoughts around “creating imaginary force fields” that defeat the consumer’s access to online information, such as bait-and-switch strategies, and even activities to create confusion around model numbers and specifications are all shortsighted. Not only will they not effectively prevent showrooming, but they will erode the consumer’s confidence and trust in the retailer who now might be seen as “the enemy.”
In “Embracing the Reality,” look toward ways to enrich and reinforce consumer relationships through showroom activity. Research has shown that consumers who have had effective and helpful showrooming activities are highly likely to buy from the retailer, and will buy more by consolidating both their online and in-store activities.
2. Implement Omnichannel Focus
The next point to consider in combatting showrooming is to think less siloed and more omnichannel. Omnichannel is a term that is gaining rapid acceptance among the retail community that has found their best consumers from a life-purchase perspective. They tend to be the customers who not only don’t simply shop one channel or the other, but who shop across a rich variety of channels at different occasions, and do so across the widest variety of categories and products.
In many cases, retailers are the biggest barrier to their own omnichannel retailing. They often jealously guard their consumer information by channel. This impacts the store environment in many ways. Rather than isolating the consumer’s access to online or competitive information, they can make this a focal point of the experience, accomplished by creating interactive digital elements within product displays. Through training, retailers can also encourage their sales associates to expose the customer to the full breadth of inventory, whether it is actually housed in-store or remotely.
One of the big changes in looking at the showrooming concept is focused on ordering online and picking up in-store. The store inventory can provide more near-term accessibility to products for last-minute purchase — another way to provide further trial and sampling of the product. But most importantly, it typically provides an additional purchase occasion by the consumer who has ordered online, picked up in-store, and now may be exposed to the wide variety of accessories and add-on purchases that will make their online purchase even more satisfying.
3. Integrate Mobile Technology
Increasingly, retailers are using mobile to expose consumers to new products, social network endorsements of their peers and entertainment related to available product. Yet we haven’t seen major translation of mobile activity into direct purchase activity (such as purchasing with a mobile device).
However, we found that mobile provides huge opportunities for integrating your store experience through in-store connections — like driving location-specific promotional activities based on customer proximity to store locations. They could provide everything from fitting room trial of fashion products, to in-store QR coding and/or near-field communication using the consumers’ mobile device as the access point.
Embrace the Reality, Implement an Omnichannel Focus, and Integrate Mobile Technology to help you combat the challenges of showrooming.
Kenneth Nisch is chairman of JGA, a retail design and brand strategy firm in Southfield, Mich.
Focus on Controls
California leads the nation in efforts to conserve energy, and it shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. Changes to the state’s mandatory Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency standards — changes that will make commercial buildings 30% more efficient than the previous 2008 standards — are scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2014.
The updated standards will have a direct impact on retailers whose portfolio includes stores in California. And for those that don’t operate in the Golden State, keep in mind that California is often a bellwether for the rest of the nation.
The new standards introduce requirements for photosensors, occupancy sensors and multi-level lighting controls, both indoors and out. Indeed, according to the California Lighting Technology Center, new requirements for lighting controls account for one of the biggest changes to Title 24 standards.
The latest version of the standards also includes more stringent requirements for the testing and certification of controls commissioning.
Another key change is that more retrofit projects will be required to meet new-construction standards for both lighting power density and controls than under the 2008 code. The only exceptions: buildings with fewer than 40 ballasts being replaced and spaces where less than 10% of the lighting is affected.
Here is a brief overview of some of the key changes in the 2013 code:
CONTROLS: Under the new standards, all interior luminaires must have manual on/off controls, and each area must be independently controlled. Dimmer switches must allow manual on/off functionality, with some exceptions, including public restrooms with two or more stalls.
The 2013 standards also include new requirements for automatic daylighting controls, requiring that floor plans in buildings over 5,000 sq. ft. have 75% of their total area in daylight zones. Controls requirements have become more stringent in the daylighting zones. Multi-level automatic daylighting controls are required in all sky-lit or side-lit zones where the installed general lighting power is greater than or equal to 120W.
The new code also mandates greater use of occupant-sensing lighting controls in offices, conference rooms and the like. Retailers should take note that, for the first time, occupancy sensors and controls will be required in aisles and open areas in warehouses. Controls must automatically reduce lighting power by 50% in these areas when they are unoccupied.
For the first time, lighting in parking garages must be controlled by occupant-sensing controls, with at least one step between 20% and 50% of full power. The garages will be allowed a maximum of 500W per occupancy sensor.
DEMAND RESPONSE: Another key change involves demand response capability. The 2008 code only required DR capability in retail stores with sales floor areas greater than or equal to 50,000 sq. ft.
But the new standards expands this significantly, requiring that all non-residential buildings, starting at 10,000 sq. ft., be capable of automatically responding to a DR signal. The end goal is that, when the utility issues the DR signal, the building must be capable of automatically reducing its lighting energy use to a level that is at least 15% below the building’s maximum total lighting power.
COMMISSIONING: Title 24 now requires that a commissioning report be completed and provided to each building owner. Projects that are issued a building permit on or after Jan. 1, 2014, must undergo acceptance testing for automatic daylighting controls, automatic time switch controls, occupancy sensors, outdoor lighting shut-off controls, outdoor motion sensors and demand response controls.
EXTERIOR LIGHTING: All outdoor luminaires up to 150W will have to comply with the IESNA’s BUG system for assessing and limiting backlight, uplight and glare.
Under the 2008 version of Title 24, photocontrols were required for all outdoor lighting. In addition to photocontrols, the 2013 standards also require automatic scheduling controls. And for all lighting mounted 24 ft. above the ground or lower, motion sensor controls will also be required. The controls must be able to automatically reduce lighting power of each luminaire by at least 40% (but not more than 80%) when the lights are not in use.
In addition, there are new requirements for controls with regard to outdoor sales lighting, facades and outdoor dining areas.
California Energy Commission
California Lighting Technology Center
Includes information about Title 24 plus technology updates and lighting design guides for retail and office spaces.
Frequently Asked Questions
Contains answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Building Energy Efficiency standards.
Wawa Takes on Florida with New Prototype
Convenience store operator Wawa is expanding through Florida with a fresh, new prototype whose palette, materials and textures complement the look and feel of the Sunshine state. The use of warm colors and abundant natural light enhance the store’s inviting, upmarket vibe.
The prototype reflects the language and style associated with Floridian architecture. Exterior elements include pastel colors, clapboard siding, pitched roofs and front porches that reference historic south and central Florida building types.
At the same time, travelers from the East and the Mid-Atlantic will recognize the Pennsylvania-based Wawa’s signature Canada Goose logo and “winged” gas canopy.
“While the design is uniquely Floridian, every other visual reference is recognizably Wawa,” said Joseph Bona, retail division president, CBX, which designed the prototype (with the help of Orlando, Fla.-based Cuhaci & Peterson).
The prototype has an open, uncluttered look, made all the more so by high ceilings and streamlined modular fixtures and shelving. The materials, which include natural stone, several types of tile and maple laminates were chosen to add to the store’s warm and welcoming aura, Bona said, and complement the Florida look.
Expansive windows provide a clear view to the interior, where fresh food takes center stage. A red-tiled wall placed front and center highlights a center island kitchen area where fresh rolls are baked off daily. The area serves as a focal point and incorporates a full-service specialty beverage section. Customers can order drinks and sandwiches exactly to their liking using Wawa’s touchscreen system. A series of screens are positioned at the area’s counters.
Adjacent to the counter area are the coffee and fountain beverage departments, which feature a warm taupe tile wall as a backdrop.
“Red drum shades that are used over the coffee area and at the beverage coolers help create a sense of place,” Bona said.
Digital signage calls attention to the food and beverage offerings in a fun way while allowing for better time of day communications of various items.
Based in Wawa, Pa., Wawa operates more than 600 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. To date, the company has rolled out 25 stores in Florida, all featuring the new design.