Many retailers have become all too familiar with showrooming, as mobile consumers shop their aisles and then order online or from lower-priced competitors discovered via mobile.
The obvious response to this is for retailers to attempt to interact with consumers as they scan and shop, whether through technologies like geo-fences or plain human observation by sales associates. That would be counter-showrooming.
But what if retailers could find a way to incent shoppers to scan products in their stores to promote sales of those products to others who are not in the store?
This would be true reverse showrooming, using the showrooms of retailers to sell their products to people not on location.
A new consumer-to-consumer online shopping startup is heading in that direction.
Shop My Label, which bills itself as “an online community that supports and facilitates peer-to-peer sales,” just launched in beta mode starting with fashion and beauty products.
The idea is that a consumer opens a free account to create their online shop. They select items from participating retailers to "stock" their shops. The shop owner then shares information about their store with their friends through their social networks.
When their friends or anyone else buys from their online store, they receive up to 10 percent commissions on each sale.
The individual stores are positioned to be marketed to each other -- mainly though Facebook, the primary sign-in method to create a storefront.
“We’re a social company,” says Dearrick Knupp, founder and chief product officer of Shop My Label.
Knupp is situated with more than a dozen employees working upstairs in a building in New York, only a few blocks from Foursquare headquarters.
The company has signed 32 retail partners, including Saks, Delia’s, Avenue, Armani Exchange and Vince Camuto. And those retailers should be happy, since the items sold at the personal shops will be at full retail.
The edge for the personal shop owner is that they can create an outfit by mixing and matching from a number of stores and brands, giving the buyer a one-stop shopping experience with payment and free shipping being aggregated.
“We’re driving full-price sales, so free shipping was a necessity,” ‘says Knupp. He says that part of the marketing partnerships with the retailers is that they market Shop My Label to their customers.
Shop My Label has inventory data feeds from the retailers, which Knupp says was far more difficult than anticipated. “Retailer integration is not easy,” he says. “And fashion is tough.”
“We have to integrate 45,000 products just from Saks.com and we have to manage 700,000 SKUs,” says Knupp. Prices from the retailers are updated daily.
The first clue of the potential mobile future of Shop My Label was when the company named as its Chief Operating Officer Boris Fridman, mobile pioneer and former CEO of Crisp Wireless (now Crisp Media).
The intent is for Shop My Label to scale gradually and then add mobile as the second phase, says Knupp.
With mobile, consumers with storefronts could potentially visit physical stores and scan products to have them automatically entered onto their personal store.
They would then have a firsthand database of the products they viewed and scanned, giving them more detailed information to add to their marketing to their Facebook friends.
This is essentially peer-to-peer selling with the premise of sellers and buyers engaging with each other while using the Shop My Label platform.
The mobile consumer would become a re-packager of sorts -- an advance scout who would see and feel the products before auto-selecting for their personal storefronts.
Perhaps the next challenge for the retailers at the customer level will be to determine whether the scanning shopper is doing so to use them by showrooming -- or help them by reverse-showrooming.