The trend toward “showrooming” -- the bane of brick-and-mortar retailers -- didn’t increase last year, while more people did research online and bought in physical stores, according to a new consumer survey by Cisco.
The tech giant’s third annual e-commerce study found that 40% of U.S. shoppers are scoping out products in-store before making purchases online -- the same proportion as last year.
At the same time, 65% are going online first to research purchases before buying in a store, up from 57% last year. To the extent that the results reflect wider consumer habits, that’s welcome news to retailers for whom showrooming has been a growing concern in recent years.
A separate study last year by mobile marketing firm Vibes suggested that showrooming isn’t necessarily as big a threat to retailers as perceived. It found that a quarter of people who showroom -- only 6% of shoppers overall -- are likely to do what is considered as pure showrooming, where they check out an item in person before buying it for less on Amazon or another online competitor.
The Cisco study however, indicated that shoppers want more mobile and self-service options from retailers in-store. For example, 85% want self-service access to digital content, while online 4% want to rely on help from store employees all the time.
The report also showed that mobile is playing a bigger part in shopping overall, with a third of shoppers using mobile searches to guide purchase decisions, up 20% on average from last year. U.S. mobile commerce overall last year grew 81% to nearly $25 billion, according to an eMarketer estimate released last week.
Use of personal mobile shopping, interactive room design, touchscreens to help select products, and automated pickup were among digital services or concepts that consumers were most interested in, according to the research. The study overall found that nearly eight in 10 (78%) of all shoppers use the Internet to research and buy products and services, and 71% want digital access in stores.
Of all the information sources influencing buying decisions, online ratings and reviews on retailers' sites carry the most weight, according to more than half (52%) of those surveyed, followed by the opinions of friends and family (49%), and expert online reviews (42%). People prefer online ratings and reviews to advice from in-store employees by a ratio of 4:1, the study found.
The Cisco survey, released Monday in connection with the National Retail Federation Convention & Expo, involved 5,000 shoppers from the U.S., the U.K., Brazil, Mexico and China. The above findings reflect the U.S. portion of the study.