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Mobile ‘Showrooming’ – A threat or an opportunity?

Author's avatar By Robert Allen 28 Apr, 2016
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New study shows how shoppers are using their Smartphones in store

We're all familiar with 'showrooming', where people visit a shop to compare products and then buy it online later, often at a cheaper price. Until a few years ago, buying online generally entailed going home, logging on and remembering exactly what is was you fancied buying back when you were in store. Easily done with big ticket items like laptops, fridges or bikes, but not so easy with products like clothes or food. Generally by the time you get home you've forgotten exactly what it was you were looking at.

But the massive advance in mobile technology over the past few years means that now pretty much every consumer has a computer in their pocket capable of checking prices in seconds. No longer is there any need to remember what you were looking at for when you get home, the whole showrooming process can now take place in store.

But what exactly are people using their phones for in-store? Are they checking prices, looking at reviews or browsing similar products? These are key questions, the answers to which will help to inform your marketing strategy.

In a new study, the IAB  has the answers. The study looked at the behaviours of different age groups in stores and discovered that in-store mobile shopping activity varies significantly by age category. Unsurprisingly, the 18-34 age ground was the most likely to engage in mobile 'showrooming', but perhaps more surprising was how little this tapered off with age, as even among the over 65s, large chunks were using their smartphones in-store.

You can see the full breakdown of results in the chart below.

mobile showrooming

The good news for those operating bricks and mortar stores is that the most common activity shoppers use their mobiles for is locating stores, checking opening hours and browsing products. These  activities can facilitate greater footfall and revenue in your physical locations, and show how mobile technology actually represents a great opportunity for brands with physical locations, as it invites the prospects of beacons and a more personalised shopping experience.

When it comes to the more classic 'showrooming' activities, millennials in the 18-35 age bracket lead the pack. The majority are using their mobile devices to compare prices in-store. Almost half (44%) check reviews online before purchase, an important reminder to give the utmost priority to handling negative feedback well so that you are not tarred with the brush of bad reviews.

mobile showrooming

If you're currently looking at developing your mobile marketing strategy to take advantage of these trends, whether it's text offers, scannable coupons or nabbing customers off your competitors with clever location-based offers, you'll want to read our newly updated mobile marketing guide. It's available to download now for Expert Members.

Author's avatar

By Robert Allen

Rob Allen is Marketing Manager for Numiko, a digital agency that design and build websites for purpose driven organisations, such as the Science Museum Group, Cancer Research UK, University of London and the Electoral Commission. Rob was blog editor at Smart Insights from 2015-2017. You can follow Rob on LinkedIn.

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