This may be the first holiday shopping cycle where mobile phones will play an undeniable role in how many consumers make their on-the-ground buying decisions. Or at least that is what the consumers seem to say. As retailers gear up for Thanksgiving and Black Friday openings, mobile ad location targeting platform Placed polled and analyzed shopping behaviors for over 14,000 of its panel participants to find that 43% of Black Friday shoppers plan to use their smartphones to do price comparisons while at a physical retail location.
But the so-called showrooming phenomenon is not all bad news for brick-and-mortar retailers. Even more people -- 49% -- say they will be using their phones to find coupons and deals, while 37% expect to get product information. Some other studies of showrooming behavior suggest that many consumers use their devices in-store to get validation and support for their in-store purchase rather than an excuse to buy elsewhere.
Retailers also have the opportunity to make digital friends with their live customers. Placed Insights also finds that 32% of Black Friday shoppers using their smartphones plan to visit a retail site or app while they shop, and 30% will look up store locations. Smartphone owners seem much more confident than in the past with making purchases directly from their devices, since 28% said they expected to buy something with their smartphone on Black Friday.
Placed also correlated survey respondents with actual shopping behaviors based on the panel members' recent store visits. The users most likely to showroom overindexed in visits to stores in the shoe, beauty and sporting goods categories. Specifically, DSW Warehouse, Ulta, sports authority and Dicks’ Sporting goods may be most at risk for showrooming, as consumers expecting to do price comparisons in store visited those stores more frequently.
Placed also found that stores making the often controversial decision to open for Thanksgiving hours stand to benefit. While 45% of respondents said they planned to shop on Black Friday, 22% were also expecting to do so on Thanksgiving, with 54% planning to visit physical stores and 46% to shop online.
Based on past behaviors, Placed projects that Macy's and JCPenney will benefit from their decision to welcome T-Day shoppers, since both retailers indexed highest among those shoppers who planned to hunt for deals on that day. On the other hand, the stores that indexed highest in the shopping behaviors of Thanksgiving shoppers -- namely Aeropostale, Ross, Forever 21, Marshall's and Apple -- stand to lose the most because they will not capture foot traffic on Thanksgiving.