Tough Call: The Showroom Challenge

Tough Call Showrooming

More customers are getting a feel for products in your showroom, then looking up the price on their phones and leaving. What would you do?

As a lumberyard serving both pros and homeowners, your showroom has always played an important role in your business. Rightfully, you take a great deal of pride in providing a place for people to touch and feel products and materials before deciding to put them  into their homes. This has been a key differentiator for you and your business, as no one else in your market provides this service. In fact, competitors have sent customers your way who wanted to see a product before buying. When they learned you had what they needed in stock that day, it often turned into a sale.

You always thought the term “showrooming” was something that happened to other businesses. But, it’s becoming common for you to observe customers seeming to really consider a product, taking a photo of the product’s details, then checking their smartphone screen for a couple of minutes before heading out of the store. When it’s two or more people shopping together, you’ll hear something like, “This is exactly what I need, and we can save a few dollars by ordering from Amazon or Walmart, or the lumberyard down the street. With the prices they charge here, it’s amazing that they stay in business!”

You get it; people want to save money. But you can’t afford to be just a showroom. After doing your research, including talking with others, the path forward is no more clear than before.

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“The showroom definitely helps us make some sales. But the number of sales we’re losing because shoppers can save a few bucks buying from somewhere else is growing every month,” explained your store manager. “If this trend continues, our showroom is going to cost us more than it brings in.” “Your overall company sales are up, but the retail sales from your showroom are slipping every year,” your accountant said. “If you can’t figure out how to make the showroom work better for you, I suggest you consider shutting it down.” Both your store manager and your accountant raise solid points. However, you know that there are lumberyards doing a booming business out of their showrooms. You read about Marcus Lumber in Iowa, Ohio’s Hartville Hardware and Lumber, and Sequoia Supply  in Pennsylvania. Those are just three top-of-mind examples of lumberyards with genuine destination showrooms. It’d take work to up your game…but at least you know that’s an option.

What would you do?

• STAY THE COURSE. Your company has survived worse than this “showrooming” trend. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and it’ll all work out. Don’t forget to promote “Buy Local!”

• KILL THE SHOWROOM. The writing is on the wall. The smart move is to eliminate the showroom, and focus your company’s energies on the profitable and growing parts of the business.

• RIGHT-SIZE IT. Analyze your inventory turns of products in the showroom. Keep those that make sense and eliminate the others. Be creative with the extra space this opens up.

• GO FOR THE WIN! Visit some LBM dealers with successful showroom operations, learn from them, then implement the best ideas to turn your showroom into a success story.

What would you do?

SOMETHING ELSE?
If you’d take a different plan of attack, email your suggested solution to James@LBMJournal.com. If we publish your reply, we’ll send you an LBM Journal mug.

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