In a recent survey of 300 mobile customers, Kentico Software found that 85 precent of customers use a mobile website to compare companies, products and pricing before they buy an item. In fact, 45 precent of mobile shoppers use devices to comparison shop when they're actually inside a company's store. This process is called "showrooming"—looking at a product in a store and then choosing to buy the product from an online retailer.
Showrooming takes a bite out of business for brick-and-mortar stores. In Brisbane, specialty food retailer Celiac Supplies put up a sign informing customers that they would be charged $5 for "just looking." The store's decision—whether or not they could actually enforce it—shows the impact that businesses are feeling when customers browse in-store and then buy online.
How to Combat Showrooming
Many large retailers are fighting back with price matching. For example, an employee for Google's retail team, Amy Ostrowski, recommends that Australian retailers follow the example of U.S. retailers like Target and Best Buy and start price matching online competitors like Amazon.
Retailers can also use their mobile marketing tools to drive customers to spend money in stores. For example, eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker allows customers to try on different pairs of glasses virtually on its website. Then, customers can come into the store to purchase the glasses or to look at similar inventory.
Integrating Mobile into the In-Store Experience
A clothing store called Hointer's, started by a former VP of Amazon, found a clever way to integrate the mobile experience with in-store shopping. Hointer's merchandises individual clothing pieces on the sales floor instead of displaying the same items in multiple sizes. Customers scan the barcode on an item that they like and use the Hointer's mobile app to choose a size. Pricing information adjusts dynamically according to both competitor prices and item availability.
When customers are ready, an automated system retrieves the requested item in the customer's size and places it in a fitting room. If customers like the clothing, then they can purchase it immediately, using either a tablet device in the dressing room or the Hointer's app. By combining mobile with in-store shopping, Hointer's has both cut staffing costs and showrooming.
While you can't stop showrooming completely, you can persuade customers to purchase from your business by making your mobile website easy to use. Eventually, when you find ways to integrate mobile with brick-and-mortar shopping, you may just cut your competitors out of the picture.
How Customers Use a Mobile Website for Comparison Shopping