What is a showroom?
Retail showrooms are locations—usually a big, open space—where businesses display their products and encourage people to buy them.
Retail showroom vs. retail store
- Physical size: Retail showrooms are typically smaller than physical stores, as they’re designed to showcase new products rather than store lots of stuff.
- Inventory: Retail stores typically have a bigger inventory, whereas retail showrooms have a few examples of each product and reduced inventory.
- Sales process: In a retail store, customers usually can buy products directly from the shelf and take them home. A retail showroom may have a more consultative sales process, where customers order products that will be shipped later.
- Customer experience: An interactive retail showroom aims to showcase a business’s products in the best possible light and encourage customers to buy. Retail stores, on the other hand, are more about customer convenience and efficiency.
Benefits of showrooms
There are a few key advantages of using showrooms to promote your business:
Showcases products in an immersive, interactive environment
Customers can see, touch, and experience the products in person. Online or traditional marketing methods may not be able to fully convey the value of a product. Showfields, for example, offers a physical space for DTC brands to showcase products through showrooms and pop-ups in bustling areas like Brooklyn, Miami, and Washington DC.
ModernRetail reports that Showfields promises more than 18,000 monthly customer visits with a 25-minute dwell time. Brands leveraging showrooms can also see a 35% increase in transaction value and 15% decrease in time between purchases, versus only selling online.
Builds brand awareness and market presence
Retail showrooms can help businesses establish a strong presence in the market and build brand awareness. The interior design of a space can generate interest in a business’s products and increase foot traffic.
“As many brands start to focus on their direct-to-consumer business and retailers turn to social media to discover emerging brands, the success of showrooms today lies in what else they can provide beyond sales,” said Tanya Taylor, a contemporary fashion designer, in an interview with Glossy.
“As a new brand without the right network, a showroom that can bring in the right buyers is so important in laying the foundation for the business.”
Serves as a hub for customer service
An invaluable resource for customers looking for product or service information, a shopping assistant in the showroom can answer questions and provide assistance, helping to build customer trust and loyalty.
Businesses can also get valuable customer feedback by letting customers interact with their products and staff.
Generates sales and builds relationships with customers
Showrooms can help businesses generate sales and build customer relationships by providing a personalized and consultative sales experience. That’s why brands like Parachute are setting up showrooms around the US to show off its new collections.
“We really are on the path to becoming a multi-category lifestyle omnichannel brand,” said Parachute’s chief creative officer Amy Hoban, in an interview with ModernRetail. “With this living room collection, taking the customer into the more communal space, was just a natural extension for us.”
Examples of successful retail showrooms
Cult favorite makeup brand Glossier has a loyal following of customers all over the world. The ecommerce brand does the majority of its sales through its online store, but it also operates brick-and-mortar showrooms in Atlanta, London, Los Angeles, Brooklyn, and more, where visitors can try the products, talk with consultants, and purchase makeup and skin care items in-person.
In addition to these locations, Glossier runs pop-up showroom locations in other major cities throughout the year, often to huge crowds and lineups.
In an effort to make shopping for work clothes less painful, women’s clothing company M.M. LaFleur sends shoppers customized clothing bento boxes from its ecommerce store whenever customers need new threads.
For anyone hesitant to commit to clothing without trying it on, M.M. LaFleur uses a showroom model in select US cities, as well as temporary pop-up shops in other major cities.
In these high-end boutique showrooms, customers are paired with a stylist that puts together looks from the brand’s collection that work best for the customer during hour-long appointments. When shoppers schedule their appointment, they fill in a short survey about their style and size, so once they arrive, their stylist has already pulled items for them to try on that they think will work.
This kind of luxury customer service gives customers the chance to get to know the product range and fitting so they can more easily place an online order in the future.
Nordstrom Local, Nordstrom’s concept store in California and New York,delivers a new kind of shopping experience to its customers.The New York Times described it saying the shop “was designed as a kind of neighborhood hub, where customers can get manicures, have a shirt altered, pick up parcels purchased online or sip rosé from the well-stocked bar. They do not come to shop—at least not in the traditional sense.”
Customers work with personal shoppers to find items that work for them, then those products are brought in from larger department store locations that carry inventory. This setup lets Nordstrom leverage its existing retail space to deliver a customized, luxury experience to a new audience.
The Nordstrom Local showroom requires a higher staff-to-customer ratio than its traditional box stores, but the personal shopping experience may bring in new customers that prefer the one-to-one service over browsing the shelves for themselves.
The mattress market is big business, valued at more than $81 billion globally. These retailers offer comfortable mattresses at a huge discount compared to traditional mattress box stores by shipping directly to consumers who shop online.
Even though most of these ecommerce retailers offer 100-day easy returns, many mattress shoppers want to physically feel the fabrics and lay on the mattress before making a large purchase.
With this in mind, Canadian retailer Endy has partnered with furniture store Urban Barn to open a series of showrooms where customers can try the mattresses firsthand. They can pop into any of the furniture stores to take the mattress for a spin before placing an order, which allows Endy to address any pain points or queries in person.
Located in Richmond, Virginia, and surrounding areas, Ferguson Bath, Kitchen, and Lighting Gallery offers customers an exclusive and sophisticated shopping experience.
Customers can find everything they need for their bathroom, kitchen remodeling, or lighting projects with ease and style at Ferguson’s showroom—whether its sinks, tubs, faucets, appliances, bathroom furniture, toilets, or lighting fixtures.
Shoppers can also talk to knowledgeable and friendly staff to help them find what they need. Before committing to a purchase, customers can view a 3D virtual tour of their project to see what their finished project will look like.
The showroom is inviting and well-maintained. The store is well-lit, clean, and arranged so customers can easily browse products.
Moving forward with the showroom experience
The retail industry has always loved beautiful showrooms. Whether it’s a curated collection of quality products for suppliers at a trade show or a pop-up shop featuring stunning products, showrooms can help provide personalized customer service and improve sales.
While some of these retailers have large budgets to spend on test concepts, it’s possible to set up a showroom without shelling out serious cash. For example, you can test out the idea with a pop-up shop, see what traction it gets, and take the idea from there.