Showrooming, the end of brick and mortar retail?

Showroomers slightly more likely to purchase from the retailer where they do research than from that retailer’s competitor

Is all the hand-wringing by retailers over the perceived threat of showrooming warranted? The answer, according to an August 2012 survey of adult mobile phone users in the US commissioned by mobile marketing company Vibes and conducted by research company Research Now, is yes and no.

Vibes’ survey found that showrooming was a decidedly mixed development for brick-and-mortar retailers. About three in 10 showrooming customers later made a purchase from the website of the store they had visited, while one-quarter bought the item they sought from a competitor.

For showroomers, information is king, and in-store research may help shoppers rationalize their purchase more than anything else. Of those smartphone users who had used their phone to scan product information or text for it, the largest group by a wide margin, 48%, reported that the practice made them feel better about their purchase. But while 14% of showroomers had made an unplanned purchase after scanning a product or texting for more information about it, a slightly larger number, 15%, had been dissuaded from making a purchase after performing those actions.

Smartphone-enabled showroomers also showed a predisposition toward incorporating other mobile technologies, such as check-in apps, mobile coupons and mobile payments, into their shopping habits in greater numbers than did smartphone owners overall.

In order to keep showrooming customers happy, retailers need to embrace a “more is better” philosophy, providing shoppers will all of the information they could need or want about products as well as prices. And then they should ensure that all of that information is consistent across all channels, and readily available to customers no matter if they’re browsing the web, or browsing the aisles.

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