How Snapchat Can Help Retailers Kill 'Showrooming'

Five Ways Brands Can Use Snapchat to Take Back Control of the Retail Experience

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Showrooming -- a term known to every retailer as the death sentence to his or her business. A consumer walks into a store, falls in love with a product, whips out her phone, finds a lower price online, and leaves the store, interested but empty-handed.

Amazon and other apps have made showrooming substantially easier for the consumer, and with this comes an increasing number of businesses closing their stores for good, or forced to move online to compete with online-only stores.

How can a retailer that requires foot traffic and in-store browsing compete with its lower-priced online counterparts?

Enter Snapchat

The social network famously known for its disappearing pictures and youthful user base has seen exponential growth across all demographics. Its privacy-conscious user base loves the ephemeral aspect of Snapchat and up until recently, Snapchat had no formal advertising unit. However, those nascent advertising units and additional rumored ad offerings are often limited to big brands and heavy spenders.

The use of Snapchat for business doesn't have to be reserved for those brands willing to shell out sums of cash for the exclusive ad units. Smart retailers can take advantage of the platform's uses, benefits and unique features to drive store visits, increase brick-and-mortar sales and boost customer engagement.

Here are some methods that retailers of all sizes can employ to kill showrooming in their stores, take back control of the retail experience and increase sales as a result.

1. In-store only coupons with a surprise offer

Retailers can use Snapchat to send consumers a coupon snap. This snap could be for 10%, 25% or 100% off an item -- the amount unknown to the user -- and the perishable nature of Snapchat requires the user to open the snap at the register (or burn their lone replay) in order to redeem the offer. This requires the consumer to pick out an item, take it to the register and then open the snap. Remember, consumers are at the point of purchase looking to cash in on their offer, so even if the coupon is for the lower amount, are they really going to walk out of line to put the item back, after they have fallen in love with it? Regardless, you have just obtained that store visit, which could equate to sales.

2. Scavenger hunt, Snapchat-style

Every marketer loves gamification. Want to launch a limited-edition item that is highly sought-after by your consumer base? Why not establish a "scavenger hunt" around your store through Snapchat. Send a snap of landmarks around the area the exclusive product is located in and allow your consumers to try and find the secret item. Your consumers will need to remember the location of the snaps and stay glued to their app for the next updates.

3. Bluetooth plus Snapchat

Beacons and Bluetooth Low Energy have equipped retailers with a powerful tool for understanding the success of their in-store signage, displays and endcaps. But Beacons and BLE working in conjunction with Snapchat could also help combat showrooming. When a customer enters a store (or approaches a designated area of the store), retailers could send a snap to the consumer with a special coupon or offer, valid only during their visit. Through preemptive cross-promotion on other social platforms, retailers are able to create a sense of anticipation for the consumer and require them to make a seemingly unplanned visit to your store.

4. Build anticipation for new items

If you are a retailer launching a highly anticipated item, why not send snaps to your customers showing the in-store arrival of the anticipated item (boxing, shipment, arrival, etc.). This adds to the heightened awareness and forces your consumers to plan the journey to the retail store in order to purchase the item. This also works for restaurants, bars, etc., featuring new items.

5. Phone a friend

Want your customers to show off how they look in your new collection? Want them to show their friends the delicious entrée they just ordered? Have your customers send snaps to their friends (and your brand profile) with their friend's Snapchat handle and they will receive a snap back for a coupon, as well as the friend receiving a coupon for their next visit.

Retailers willing to utilize creative methods to drive attention to their brick-and-mortar footprints, without cannibalizing their online efforts, are going to position themselves for sustained growth. Snapchat offers a creative and untapped opportunity for brands to interact with consumers on a more personal level, as well as offer a creative digital marketing alternative to the interruptive nature of banner ads and native advertising. Retailers should take advantage of this new platform before the opportunity disappears.

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