Are you part of the “showrooming” phenomenon? Showrooming – now a common term among retailers – refers to consumers who find a product in a store, but then purchase it online (whether in-store via a mobile device, or back at home).
“Among brick-and-mortar retailers, showrooming has become a dirtier word than shoplifting,” reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Should retailers really be so concerned?
Maybe not, according to a new study from Columbia Business School and Aimia. The study examines the behavior of shoppers showrooming with their mobile device in store aisles (referred to as “M-Shoppers”); it breaks M-Shoppers down into five different categories and examines their behavior in-store.
Here are the highlights:
- 21% of all consumers are M-Shoppers — using mobile devices while in retail stores to assist in their shopping decision
- gender of M-Shoppers is pretty evenly split (52% male, 48% female)
- 74% of M-Shoppers are over 29 years old (M-Shoppers are not just Millennials)
- only 6% of M-Shoppers are “Exploiters” — already planning to buy online, and always opting for the lowest price
- 30% are “Traditionalists” — committed to purchasing in-store, and only using their smartphones to find more information
- M-Shoppers are more likely to use a store’s mobile app (42%) than to use deal-hunting apps such as those offered by RedLaser or EBay (26%)
In summary, M-Shoppers are not as disruptive to brick-and-mortar retailers as you might think. One of the report authors, Columbia professor David Rogers, says “Basically, it shows we should dial back the panic a little bit.”
But how can retailers convince consumers to purchase in-store, at the actual cash register? Nearly half of respondents (48%) were more likely to buy in stores when tempted by loyalty programs. And the majority – 55% – of respondents are willing to sign up for a store loyalty program in order to gain benefits on their smartphone while in the store.
The research also suggests that retailers offering price-matching and free shipping stand a better chance of converting customers to purchase. Half of respondents who had engaged in showrooming said an offer of free shipping convinced them to purchase online (48%); even more cited lower prices (69%).
Some retailers take a different tack, and actually encourage shoppers to buy on their mobile device; Walmart’s “geo-fencing” mobile app offers hyperlocal deals to users located near the physical store. Walmart now gets 12% of online revenue from customers shopping (via mobile) within a brick-and-mortar store location.