As many brick and mortar retailers are faced with the challenge of competing with their digital counterparts, companies like Best Buy and Target are signaling the end of showrooming by offering consumers the best deals offline and online.  It’s a frequent topic of conversation: how can brick and mortar retailers maintain their competitive edge with the ever alluring online bargains

The answer it seems for many large retailers is to offer customers the best price match possible to deter them from purchasing from a competitor instead. While this type of strategy can certainly keep more traditional brick and mortar operations in the game, many brands are missing a HUGE opportunity to create brand loyalty and stronger relationships between company and consumer. In fact, the death of the showroom is not so much a battle between online and offline but rather an opportunity to merge the two, beef up digital acquisition strategies and create exceptional brand experiences for consumers where ever they are engaging with your brand. Think about it, what better an opportunity to digitally acquire a new consumer than at the point of sale when that customer is the most receptive and positive on your brand.

The most effective strategy for traditional brick and mortar retailers to stay competitive isn’t just about putting an end to showrooming; it is about shifting the focus to digital customer acquisition. For retailers today, it has to be about the long game and nurturing those customer relationships for a more sustainable business. Building strong customer relationships and loyalty today, leads to loyal customers and repeat purchases and this is where brands will generate the most revenue.

If retailers do nothing else, they must realize that they can’t survive by simply beating every high price alone. Price matching is not only unsustainable, but it doesn’t allow for any competitive edge given the high price margins of maintaining a brick and mortar location. For example, a retailer like Best Buy might sell the same laptop for the same price sold online but the margins are not substantial enough to balance the costs of real estate, staff, marketing, etc. Brick and mortar stores are going to be able to survive only by creating stronger relationships with their customers and building brand loyalty.

And the best part is, for brick and mortar stores, they have a differentiator – whether they capitalize on it or not – and those are their services (think Best Buy’s Geek Squad, warranties or repairs). This is the secret sauce for retailers; take care of your customers, look after their needs to create repeat customers who will make distinction and show preference for your brand when it’s time to make their next purchase. It’s a concept that seems simple enough but worth repeating, if you approach business with your end consumer in mind, they will respond. It’s a relationship you have to nurture and it’s very much a give and a take.

Read here for more information on how Sailthru is helping retailers bridge the offline and online divide. You can also hear more from Michael at eTail West on Wednesday, February 27 at 2:30pm PST as he joins the eTail panel: “Effectively Harnessing and Actioning Customer Data to Develop a BI Framework” or visit the Sailthru team ateTail West Booth #819.