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Half of smartphone owners are now using their devices to ‘showroom’ – but that’s a good thing

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Almost half (47%) of smartphone owners are now using their mobile devices to ‘showroom’ and browse for an item whilst out shopping, according to the latest eCustomerServiceIndex (eCSI) results from IMRG and eDigitalResearch. But how much of a threat is it to retailers?

Not as much as many may have feared. Often, shoppers are using their device to read reviews when in-store (47%), then they are looking at price checking (39%). Nearly a third of them are using the device to order things that are out of stock.

The eCSI results also highlight that almost half (46%) of smartphone shoppers who have made a purchase via their mobile device are opting for a click and collect delivery option, suggesting that consumers are increasingly using their devices outside the home, making spontaneous purchases when they’re already out and about, and collecting on the go.

And it is here that the opportunity rather than the threat lies. Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, explains: “These results highlight just how important mobile is now to the entire customer journey. Just 18 months ago, retailers were debating the risks involved with a growing ‘showrooming’ trend amongst consumers, worried that the introduction of price comparison in-store would affect bottom lines. The latest eCSI results highlight that this is a trend that is here to stay – consumers increasingly want to, and expect to be able to, use their mobile when out shopping, and not just to purchase from competitors. Therefore retailers now need to ensure that their in-store experience is also mobile optimised with simple steps such as offering free WiFi, making sure their entire customer experience is as good as it possibly can be”.

The results highlight the growing relationship between store and mobile channels with an increasing number of consumers using their mobile device to help enhance their in-store experience. These latest findings reveal that smartphone ownership in the UK now stands at around 70%, representing over two thirds of consumers who are now walking into stores and bringing their mobile devices with them. 1 in 5 (18%) of smartphone owners surveyed claim to have already purchased a product via their mobile if they deemed the queue times in store to be too long.

Tina Spooner, Chief Information Officer, adds: “The idea of “showrooming” has been part of the shopping journey for many of us since the early days of e-commerce, where savvy online shoppers would research in-store and buy goods cheaper on the web. However, the evolution of the mobile consumer over the past few years has undoubtedly created a new breed of customer. This is only confirmed by the latest results from the eCSI survey, which not only reveals that convenience is a key factor for smartphone shoppers but click and collect is becoming an important growth driver for mobile commerce.

“In fact, our Quarterly Benchmarking data reveals that sales via smartphones and tablet devices now account for 27% of the UK online retail market, having doubled over the past year. During the same period click and collect sales for multichannel retailers rose to almost 1 in 5 online sales (19%).

“It is clear that mobile has a key part to play in the multichannel retail environment. With the growth in sales via smartphones continuing into triple digits percentage-wise, the increasing power of m-retail should not be ignored.”

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