Photo: Restoration Hardware
Many retailers are terrified of turning into a showroom. They fear consumers will come only to test out the products they’ll later buy online. Furniture store Restoration Hardware decided to approach “showrooming” differently by accepting and encouraging it, reports Joan Solsman at The Wall Street Journal.
Many stores, including Restoration Hardware’s rival Pottery Barn, fought showrooming by “rushing to lower prices,” Solsman writes.
But Restoration Hardware decreased its number of physical stores and used the remaining ones as showrooms. Sofas, tables, rugs and other decor were meticulously arranged with an emphasis on the aesthetic. Customers could find even more merchandise online or in catalogues while shopping in the stores.
The tactic is working. Direct-to-consumer now makes up half of Restoration Hardware’s business, and the retailer has reported double-digit sales growth for 10 quarters, according to Solsman.
Restoration Hardware’s model probably wouldn’t work for Best Buy, the most prolific victim of “showrooming,” Solsman cautions.
“Furniture and decor, unlike consumer electronics and other items, aren’t easily searchable by specifications,” Solsman writes. “A highly fragmented market, home furnishings sellers benefit from many players having proprietary merchandise, which stunts online competitive threats.”
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