Showrooming - how and now not to respond

I was rather appalled to read an industry article today that included a suggestion by a digital marketer that dealers should combat showrooming by blocking the URLs of their competitors while shoppers with smartphones and tablets are wandering their own showroom or lot.

Additionally, one dealership GM said that he gave all his sales people an iPad so that they could find shoppers that were comparison shopping from their smartphones, look over the shoppers' shoulders, go to the same site as that shopper and then start telling the shopper why their own vehicle on their own lot was a better value. 

Frankly, I think this is outrageous behavior, and I'm thinking that a lot of shoppers would walk out if treated this aggressively. I know I would. 

Would it not be better to allow those consumers the access to the tools that are available to them - and a little breathing room -  and then approach them honestly: "I see you're comparison shopping. So, what do you think? How do we stack up?" And then answer their objections. Perhaps a "We can beat our competitor's offer. Just ask us" might be a prominent promo. 

I think when showroom balkers get their backs up about the transparency they're forgetting two important things: 

  • Consumers WILL find what they need to know no matter what stumbling blocks you attempt, and they WILL remember that you were the dealership that tried to block the access
  • If you market well there are at least as many folks on your competitors' lots showrooming YOUR inventory, as are on YOUR lot checking out your competitors' deals. If you do a good job of marketing the value you offer, this should work for, rather than against, you. 

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