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Posted by Sucharita Mulpuru on November 14, 2012
As mobile Internet use has grown, so has the usage of smartphones in stores. Much of that in-store phone usage is innocuous — using store maps, for instance — but some of it is threatening to brick-and-mortar stores, particularly when shoppers use phones in stores to research prices. While "showrooming" isn't a term that many consumers know (only 16% awareness according to com Score), it's nonetheless happening.
The good news: Consumers with smartphones only “showroomed” prices in stores on average a few times in a 6-month period. Aprimo, an marketing service firm that surveyed about 2,000 consumers in October about their mobile price-checking behavior in stores for that datapoint. I suspect that amounts to a very small percent (i.e., less than 5%) of shopping visits. The bad news: That survey (and comScore's) confirmed the worst of what many in the retail industry have expected -- that showrooming is here to stay. And it hurts stores. After all, most of the showrooming shoppers told us that they usually find cheaper prices online when they research them. Some highlights:
So what are retailers to do when faced with this growing trend? In the short term, online price-matching is critical, as Best Buy and Target have already launched. That’s in fact what most customers expect when they see cheaper prices online. But in the long term, strong and unique product assortments in partnership with manufacturers that enforce UPP (unilateral pricing policy), clever uses of their loyalty programs (which most retailers now have), and improved store associate support will be critical to avoiding the ill consequences of showrooming.
In short, retailers must seriously consider ways to avoid losing sales to mobile price research by using strategies such as price-matching, personalized in-store service, and loyalty programs.