Showrooming is a bad, bad word. Cringe-worthy for most retailers. The term covers the act of consumers going into brick-and-mortar stores to scope out goods, but then heading back home to make purchases online, typically based at cheaper prices. And this trend, to no surprise, is directly tied to mobile shopping. In a recent survey, 42% of respondents claimed they used a mobile device in-store and completed their purchase online, not there in the venue.
So, consumers must be buying cheaper products on their phones in someone else’s store then, right? Wrong. (At least not yet.) A 2012 Gartner survey showed the top five shopping activities consumers expect to use their phones for as:
- Finding store location
- Checking inventory
- Comparing competitive prices
- Browsing a retailer’s website
- Checking product reviews
Anything jump out at you as curiously missing from this list? (Hint: it rhymes with raking a furchase.) As a matter of fact, only 18% of respondents use their mobile phones for in-store payments.
So, back to showrooming and its devilish reputation? Here’s something to consider: 42% of those aforementioned shoppers who used a mobile device in-store spent over $1,000, while only 21% of showroomers did the same. Also in this study, we learn that convenience and ability to try a product are the top two considerations for purchase, ranking above price. It would stand to reason that we may actually have an opportunity here, given that showroomers are completing the first and most important step in the purchase process – showing up!
What if retailers worked with, not against consumers? I read an interesting opinion piece in PandoDaily recently that actually sparked this post. In this reactive, real-time marketing world, flexibility and adaptability are beyond crucial to marketing – and business – success. What if retailers took all this information and worked with consumer trends and behaviors, instead of placing so much emphasis (and time and energy and money) on battling it? The picture has been painted for us – consumers prefer to see/touch many products before buying them (so much so that they are willing to take a trip to bricks-and-mortars just for that), they look to smartphones as purchase advisers, but they don’t make buys through their phones. Oh, and 65% of shoppers who use their mobile device in-store said it made them more likely to buy the product. The way I see it, retailers have two choices. 1) Build an absolutely awe-inspiring experience inside stores that makes the visit more than just shelf-shopping (similar to the author’s Disney Store tale). Or 2) destroy the old bricks-and-mortars concept and bank (solely?) on pop-up retailtainment centers that provide convenience and short-term excitement, perhaps a discount strategy as well. Either choice needs to come with a hyper focus on the preferred customer way of doing things with in-store product trial and mobile phone research to make the transition to purchase as easy and enjoyable as possible.