A new 2013 report from IBM’s analytics division shows that showrooming is becoming an increasingly common practice among consumers.
The study, which covered 26,000 global customers, showed that online and in-store shopping looked like equally good choices to most buyers, depending on convenience and time of purchase. About 35 percent of consumers said they did not know which option they would pick next. Around 80 percent of shoppers last used a real storefront, but only half of those thought they would use the same store again for their next similar purchase.
This state of uncertainty and transition marks how far the mobile and e-tailer industries have come in the past years. Online purchasing, whether from phones or from desktops, is about to get a whole lot of new converts. Showrooming is one of the symptoms of the change.
Some industries are already long familiar with the showroom game. Customers come into the store to see products for themselves, inspecting size, color, design, and overall quality. In the digital age, these are key details that shoppers cannot easily find online, although the latest generation of high definition tablet screens is helping. After customers look in person, they return home and buy the product online at a later time. Online commerce gives consumers a chance to seek better deals or more reviews before they make a decision.
Storefronts, as a result, are becoming showrooms instead of POS centers. Customers use them for their display value, not for real shopping. Browsing for goods only works on long-term products (the trend has not disturbed the grocery store business), but it is building in many different areas. Emerging markets like China and India, where the middle class is more open to new shopping habits, are seeing an even higher rise in showrooming than the United States.
“Today’s consumer is sophisticated and opportunistic, navigating between store and online environments interchangeably to meet their shopping needs of the moment,” said Jill Puleri, Global Retail Leader, IBM Global Business Services. “To satisfy clients, retailers must deliver a consistent, convenient shopping experience across each consumer touch point, extending from the store to online and back again. The key is using data and analytics to better understand the behavior and preferences of shoppers to close the sale.”
The IBM data undoubtedly shows that consumers are gaining more power in the marketplace. Many retailers are realizing that in order to survive in today’s digital age, strategies must be put in place to encourage consumers who engage in showrooming to complete the purchase rather than losing the business to someone else. Mobile optimized websites with features such as easily accessible customer reviews, price lookup, and one-page checkout will become increasingly important to drive purchase decisions for the growing number of consumers who use storefronts as showrooms.
Mad Mobile is the leading provider of mobile-first solutions for the world's top companies and retailers.
Looking for a technology partner who can deliver amazing mobile solutions across multiple mobile interfaces?