If you ever had any doubt about how attached we’ve become to our mobile phones, take a look at this graph from Vibes.com.
After you get past the 11% of smartphone owners who keep their phones on hand while showering, take a look at the “While Shopping” column. 82% of smartphone users have their phone with them when they shop, and they’re using them to make sure they get the best deal.
Showrooming is when a shopper uses a brick and mortar store to touch and try a product only to buy it online. It may seem like a concept that is new to the mobile era, but it actually goes way back to the days when stores knew the meaning of customer service. By putting out only one display model of a product, retailers saved space and lowered instances of theft and breakage. Consumers would choose the item they liked, then “order” it on a form, which was then taken into the warehouse to be filled or they could order it to be delivered through a catalog service.
The big change with mobile is that it allows consumers to showroom shop one store but buy from the competitor without ever leaving the store.
According to the Vibe study:
- 84% of “showrooming shoppers” have conducted research while shopping in-store.
- 33% of consumers have admitted to comparison shopping on a competitor’s website while in another retailer’s store.
- 6% were likely to abandon an in-store purchase for a competitor.
Of those that did buy in the showroom store, almost half said they felt better about the purchase because they had a chance to check it out online. Meaning, they were sure they were getting a good product at the best price.
There’s not a lot a brick retailer can do if an online store constantly undercuts their prices, but it’s not all about the dollars. If the difference is small, consumers will buy on the spot just to avoid waiting for the item to arrive, or to avoid the hassle of completing the online sale.
In addition to price, consumers also use mobile to find product reviews. That’s something a retail store can provide by giving tablets to the sales people on the floor and by offering quick links to reviews posted online. Sure, you might be handing the customer the sword with which to stab you, but hiding from the truth isn’t going to cut it. If a customer finds a bad review online, lead them to a better product. That’s a salesman’s job, to help the customer get the best product for the money he has to spend.
There is an upside to the showroom shopper. They tend to be more willing to try mobile options such as coupons, loyalty programs and they love to share.
Ideally, every retail store should have its own mobile app or mobile optimized website. That way, there’s no gap between offline and online shopping. With a mobile option, customers can have it their way. Pay in the store but have it delivered through the website. Buy online but pick it up in the store. The retailer can help direct that by offering in-store only coupons versus special online deals.