April 3, 2012

Mobile shoppers spur rise of ‘showrooming’

Posted by: in North America

One of the initial barriers to online shopping was consumers’ reluctance to buy something without seeing it. Shoppers tended to research products online, then go to a physical store to examine them and make purchases. But as people have become more comfortable with e-commerce, and with smartphones enabling research and shopping on the go, a reversal in behavior is under way: Shoppers are going into physical stores to examine products, then using their mobile device to price-compare, frequently completing the purchase online.

It’s called “showrooming,” and more than a few shoppers are doing it. A 2011 Codex Group survey found that almost a quarter of respondents who bought a book online first saw it in a physical store. The Pew Research Center estimates that 5 percent of mobile phone owners who bought online in the 2011 holiday period did so from a physical store after comparing prices. In the U.K., almost a fifth of in-store shoppers check competitors’ websites on their mobile, with 30 percent of that cohort saying they’ve purchased from a rival while inside a store, according to Intersperience. And a ClickIQ study found that nearly half of participants who shopped online in the past six months had first seen the product in a store; some of them patronized that retailer’s e-commerce site, but almost half ended up buying from Amazon.

Amazon is eager to encourage showrooming. Its Price Check mobile app lets shoppers scan in-store products to easily look up Amazon’s prices. A one-day holiday promotion, offering up to $5 off for shoppers who used the app in a physical store, had brick-and-mortar retailers crying foul last year. They’re starting to fight back. In January, Target asked its suppliers to create products exclusive to the retailer, thwarting shoppers ready to compare prices online. Nordstrom, already known for its customer service, now offers free shipping for in-store shoppers.

The rules of retailing have changed. Showrooming already appears to be partly responsible for Best Buy’s current woes. For the most cost-conscious consumers, physical retailers will need to add more incentives (e.g., bonus products with in-store purchase). But while online retailers have the advantage of low overhead, brick-and-mortar offers immediate gratification, hands-on customer service and, in some cases, memorable experiences. Retailing as a Third Space, one of our 10 Trends for 2011, emphasized the need for retailers to create unique experiences and environments that are only partly about shopping. Ultimately, these could make the difference between a loyal customer and one with a wandering Web browser.

Image credit: Amazon

2 Responses to "Mobile shoppers spur rise of ‘showrooming’"

1 | Will Palley

May 3rd, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Avatar

To combat showrooming, Target will now cease selling Kindle e-readers in its stores http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/03/business/after-warning-amazon-about-sales-tactics-target-will-stop-selling-kindles.html

2 | Will Palley

July 10th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

Avatar

The New York Times outlines how big box retailers like Best Buy and Walmart are fighting back against “showrooming” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/05/business/retailers-lure-online-shoppers-offline.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

Comment Form

SIGN UP FOR OUR WEEKLY EMAIL NEWSLETTER:

New: 10 Years of 10 Trends

The Future 100

JWT AnxietyIndex

Things to Watch

  • Facebook’s Anthology
    April 30, 2015 | 4:20 pm

    FacebookVideo smallVideo is king on social media—more than 4 billion are viewed per day on Facebook alone. To capitalize on that, Facebook has just introduced Anthology, a partnership with seven media companies with the aim of creating unskippable ads.

    Continue reading “Facebook’s Anthology” »

  • MyIdol
    April 27, 2015 | 4:55 pm

    MyIdol

    Social media is abuzz with tiny pole dancers. And rock stars. And pandas. All thanks to an app that takes the humble selfie to new heights of playful absurdity—and in 3D, no less.

    Continue reading “MyIdol” »

  • Tindergram
    April 17, 2015 | 11:03 am

    Tinder Instagram

    Swiping just got more interesting—with its latest update, Tinder lets users browse the Instagram feeds of their potential matches. The pairing (which, Adweek notes, seemed inevitable) offers “a sort of social diary, co-written by your friends and family” to help people better stalk their dates.

    Continue reading “Tindergram” »

  • Everlane’s Transparent City series
    April 8, 2015 | 2:33 pm

    Everlane LA

    “We call it Radical Transparency,” says e-tail startup Everlane. The company, known for its luxe basics, was built on the principle of disclosing production costs and keeping markups as low as possible. Now, Everlane has launched the Transparent City tour, a first-of-its-kind look at the inner workings of like-minded local companies. The kickoff event in LA brought guests behind the scenes with local bloggers, designers and chefs to learn about their creative inspiration. And, perhaps the culmination of the week — Everlane invited a select few on a tour of their factory, sharing the garment construction process from start to finish. The tour had a 300-person waitlist.

    Continue reading “Everlane’s Transparent City series” »

  • Crossing ‘the digital divide’
    March 19, 2015 | 4:24 pm

    ggw_16-9

    In a piece on an 82-year-old going online for the first time, The Washington Post called attention to a rising issue—the divide between those who use the Internet and those who don’t (13% in the U.S., and 41% among senior citizens).

    Continue reading “Crossing ‘the digital divide’” »

  • Incremental saving and giving
    March 11, 2015 | 1:51 pm

    Call it progress or just laziness—apps are popping up that harness our small change and put it to better use. Acorns, dubbed “the Tinder of investing,” links to a user’s debit or credit card and rounds up to the nearest dollar on every purchase. The app then takes that spare change and invests it in a portfolio of the user’s choice—portfolios range from low to high risk (and reward). Or users can opt to let Acorns choose for them based on their age, goals, income and other factors. Meanwhile, apps like Qapital and Digit facilitate regular small transfers from checking to savings, and banks themselves are getting on the incremental savings bandwagon. (See: Bank of America’s Keep the Change and Wells Fargo’s Way2Save.)

    Continue reading “Incremental saving and giving” »

  • Augmenting sleep
    March 9, 2015 | 12:02 pm

    Sense orb

    Digital platforms are already integrated into our every waking minute—now they’re moving into our sleep. A spate of apps and devices aim to aid and facilitate better sleep, from ambient lamps to a lucid dreaming sleep mask to an app that wakes you up with a phone call from a stranger.

    Continue reading “Augmenting sleep” »

  • The sharing economy grows up
    March 3, 2015 | 3:30 pm

    Screen Shot 2015-03-03 at 2.28.41 PM

    Hotel giant Starwood has bought in to the sharing economy. The group, which owns W Hotels, St. Regis and Sheraton, has announced a partnership with car service Uber in which every dollar spent by a guest on an Uber car earns points toward free rooms and other perks.

    Continue reading “The sharing economy grows up” »

  • Digital immersive exercise
    February 25, 2015 | 4:04 pm

    immersive-fitness-the-trip

    Equinox’s new revved-up cycle class speaks to a growing exercise trend—digital immersion. This month the gym brand unveiled Pursuit, an immersive cycling concept, to limited U.S. gyms. Equinox describes the program as “an immersive studio cycling experience that uses groundbreaking gaming and data visualization to drive competition and inspire peak performance.”

    Continue reading “Digital immersive exercise” »

  • Science fare
    February 20, 2015 | 2:07 pm

    Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 12.59.22 PM

    The worlds of science, gastronomy and art are continuing to cross-pollinate—from edible conceptual art to molecular gastronomy “lab cafés” to synesthetic dining events. Café ArtScience in Cambridge, Mass., is a recent example. Opened late last year by David Edwards, a Harvard engineering professor, the café serves whiskey “fogs” through a special carafe that turns the liquor into vapor (which means consumers don’t take in any of the calories and feel none of the intoxicating effects).

    Continue reading “Science fare” »

  • RSSArchive for Things to Watch »