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HSN exec: Focus on points of differentiation when it comes to showrooming

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January 15, 2013

NEW YORK – A HSN executive at the NRF 102nd Annual Convention & Expo said that marketers need to differentiate themselves and offer unique consumer experiences to help combat showrooming.

During the “Coca-Cola Opens Happiness for Consumers and Retailers” session, executives from Walgreens and HSN discussed how the mobile and social ecosystem is changing the way marketers do business. The session was moderated by Lori Mitchell-Keller, senior vice president of the retail industry business unit at SAP.

“Seventy-five percent of all the products we sell are exclusive to us,” said Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN. “We also provide more than just the product itself.

“It’s all about great storytelling and we’re giving consumers a reason to come and engage with us, not just because they’re doing a price comparison,” she said.

“You have to figure out what, at the core of your business, is your reason and differentiation.”

Building loyalty
According to Ms. Grossman, showrooming is about transparency.

With that, it is important for marketers to focus on their own point of differentiation.

There is a shift that is happening in retail that is being driven by technology such as social media and mobile.

Furthermore, consumers are embracing these changes.

“We know that our customers love to shop and love to share,” Ms. Grossman said. “It’s about creating trust and building that relationship.

“We want to give consumers a reason for them to interact with us – not just because we want somebody to purchase something,” she said.

Ongoing challenge
Many marketers face issues with showrooming and fear that it will mean a loss of sales to lower-priced online retailers.

“Showrooming is the future,” said Joseph C. Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions at Walgreens. “And, accessibility of data is the future of our lives.

“The reality is, you can make some business decisions that can protect you from that, but the reality is to turn that into a possible part of your environment.”

According to a recent IDC Retail Insights report, showrooming was expected to influence $1.7 billion in holiday retail sales.

Moreover, applications such as Amazon are becoming an obstacle for many retailers because it gives consumers an easy way to walk into a store, scan a product and see if a competitor sells it at a lower price.

“We would rather you activate that online purchase with us and we look at opportunities to activate that purchase,” Mr. Magnacca said.

“It’s no longer about price, it’s about high touchpoints – more importantly a store that’s been defined to let consumers shop and browse,” he said. “We still need to be front and center in the retail community.

“We’re clearly understanding people want to have access to products on their terms. We’re very much focused on the omnichannel consumer and at the end of the day, the channel is irrelevant. It’s all about what’s best for the consumers.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at rimma@mobilemarketer.com.

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