“Showrooming,” the practice of researching merchandise in a store, then buying it elsewhere—online, by phone or from another brick-and-mortar business—has retailers nervous, and rightly so. Price-conscious consumers are inclined to defect when presented with a better deal.
Shoppers armed with smartphones, though, have been causing the most commotion. The number of individuals who have checked prices using mobile devices while in a store varies depending on the source and methodology, but it is fair to say that a significant number have engaged in the activity.
Several researchers have surveyed the number of US mobile phone users who have comparison-shopped via phone while in-store. Their research has found a comparison-shopping rate ranging from 59% of US smartphone owners (InsightExpress, 2011) to 25% of US mobile phone owners (Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2012).