A Third Of U.S. Shoppers Showroom, Buy From Online Retailers While In Stores

by , Jul 23, 2013, 4:31 PM
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More than half (58%) of smartphone owners, or a third of all adult U.S. shoppers, regularly showroom and buy products from online retailers while in brick-and-mortar stores.

That finding comes from a new study by Texas-based Parago, which develops incentive programs for clients, including Staples, Sprint and The Home Depot.
 
Showrooming -- the practice of examining products in physical stores before shopping for the same items for less online -- has gained much attention in retail circles in recent years with rise of smartphone-wielding consumers able to comparison-shop easily on their devices. The study, based on a survey of 1,043 smartphone users in June, found showrooming up 400% from a year ago.
 
Worse yet for traditional retailers, the study showed arch nemesis Amazon is the main way that people choose to compare prices; it was twice as popular as Google for that purpose. A price difference of as little as $5 on a $50 item can tip the balance in Amazon’s favor. Furthermore, nearly half (46%) of survey participants were Amazon Prime members, with special perks and free shipping.
 
Among those who showroom, two-thirds do so weekly and 26% monthly. Entertainment, electronics and mobile technology, and clothing were the categories in which people most often scoped out goods in-store before buying them online. Forty-one percent compare products in every price range, no matter how small.
 
While price was cited by 46% as the most important factor in comparing products on smartphones in-store, customer reviews (28%) and expert reviews (13%) also influenced decisions. Comments by friends on social media sites, by contrast, didn’t play much of a role in mobile searches.
 
The Parago report suggested that retailer steps to combat showrooming, such as special sales, exclusive merchandise and upgraded customer service haven’t done much to slow the trend. But one strategy that shows promise is offering customers a price-match guarantee with Amazon. A majority of shoppers said they would opt to buy goods at a brick-and-mortar store over Amazon with an in-store rebate equal to the Amazon price.

That finding held true across different product categories and price levels and for consumers of different income groups. Parago noted dynamic pricing rebates provide healthier margins than instant discounts. Exactly how great a threat retailers perceive showrooming to be isn't clear.

A separate study last month by e-commerce software provider EPiServer indicated that the practice was not a major concern among retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers and other companies surveyed. Among those who planned to embrace mobile in the coming year, only 2% aim to combat showrooming. There was less focus on using mobile for sales and more for customers.

5 comments on "A Third Of U.S. Shoppers Showroom, Buy From Online Retailers While In Stores".

  1. Jon Currie from CURRIE COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
    commented on: July 24, 2013 at 11:40 p.m.
    Never knew showroom was a verb.
  2. Pete Austin from Triggered Messaging
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 5:05 a.m.
    No. The survey says that "58% of smartphone shoppers use their phones to compare prices while in-store", not REGULARLY but presumably once. And "66% compare prices weekly", not IN-STORE but presumably at home or at work. So the evidence does not back up the claims. http://promos.parago.com/rs/paragoinc/images/dynamicpricingreport-web.pdf.
  3. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 10:31 p.m.
    Pete nailed it. This so-called study is really a bunch of headlines without substantiation. These guys may WANT this to be true...but none of the shopper data shows it. Sad that MediaPost gave this any attention - they are just propagating untruth...
  4. Doug Garnett from Atomic Direct
    commented on: July 25, 2013 at 10:34 p.m.
    I let it go unsaid that these "conclusions" (or opinions) have a nice fit with the business of the survey promoter.
  5. Rodney Mason from parago
    commented on: July 29, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.
    Jon, Showroom can be a verb. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/showroom Pete, The 66% that compare prices weekly do so in-store on their smartphones and buy from on-line retailers on their smartphones while in-store. Even further, consumers will buy a similar item, not a perfect match from an on-line retailer if the price is right. Our study included price elasticity questioning, which we break out by income, that shows propensity to switch to an online retailer based on the price in store. For a $50 item in a brick and mortar store, $5 can tip the scale to Amazon for the majority of shoppers who showroom. Doug, The study was a national survey of smartphone owners. The results surprised us and are a true reflection of the market. MediaPost is one of many credible news sources that ran a report on the study, not because they are keen at "propagating untruth," but because the facts speak for themselves. Best, Rodney Mason http://twitter.com/rodmoose

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