Showrooming and the Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper

Showrooming and the Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper

It’s no surprise that mobile shopping is estimated to drive holiday 2013 retail sales. Although mobile shopping is nothing new, the way consumers are utilizing mobile shopping this holiday season is.

According to a survey by Hipcricket, Inc., consumers are now not only shopping online this holiday season, but also researching products while in the store before purchasing through mobile applications. Eighty-four percent of respondents said they use their smart phones or tablets to research a product — an activity now defined as “showrooming”.

Showrooming is when a customer uses a mobile device to help with a purchase decision in-store. Seventy-one percent of respondents in Hipcricket’s survey said they used a mobile device when they’ve made an in-store decision within the past six months, usually comparing prices between various companies.

Because customers are increasingly looking to mobile to connect, research, and purchase products, mobile is an important medium to invest in. Retailers are now investing more into mobile, recognizing that mobile is one of the only ways to reach their consumer at every point in their decision making process.

For example, as Urban Outfitters prepared for the 2013 holiday season, it overhauled and redesigned its mobile app specifically for this reason. Earlier this fall, Urban Outfitters created a new application called UO that customers could use to shop and compare product availability and prices directly on the mobile app. Urban Outfitters also implemented a rewards program, Urban On, a 2D barcode that enables a customer to scan and listen to the retailer’s radio station and a program that gives the customer access to events, rewards, and company challenges.

Along with the features on the application, Urban Outfitters implemented free WiFi and cell phone charging stations within its store this year. Once a customer logs into the free WiFi or uses a charging station, they can be targeted with Urban Outfitter advertisements and promotions, two aspects of showrooming.

Brick and mortar stores like Staples are also combating showrooming by matching prices on sites like Amazon and Ebay to keep transactions in the store.

This holiday season, look for companies to invest in improvements to mobile applications and websites to accommodate the consumer’s growing curiosity to research competitor sites and get the best available deal.

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