Retailers are facing a growing threat from showrooming, with research from Omnico revealing that 1 in 10 consumers have used their smartphone to buy a product from another retailer’s website while in-store. Amongst 16 to 24 year-olds loyalty is in even shorter supply, with 15% of young shoppers admitting to buying elsewhere via their smartphones.
Almost a third (29%) of shoppers admit to using their smartphone to compare prices with other retailers’ websites, while almost a quarter (23%) of shoppers say that they look at product reviews while they are shopping, to help make a decision. Meanwhile, 15% of consumers use their smartphone to check the retailer’s own website to compare prices or check stock availability.
Smartphone ownership currently stands at 51% and with the roll-out of 4G networks, usage is expected to rise further. The latest ONS figures show that online sales represent 9.5% of spend, with most analysts agreeing that in a tough economic climate savvy shoppers flock to online sites in the search of a bargain.
“Showrooming is here to stay, whether retailers like it or not,” says Steve Thomas, chief technology officer, Omnico. “Some retailers try to stop it, by ignoring consumers’ desire for free wi-fi or even blocking mobile signals, but this is a short sighted view. Instead, it can be embraced, by offering assisted selling and integrating their mobile and web channels to offer genuine omni-channel retail. Yes, price is very important, but there are many other factors that encourage loyalty to a brand and omni-channel, such as convenience and quality of service.
“Talking to both retailers and consumers, we’ve found that there’s a lack of focus on omni-channel retail so far. This means that because channels aren’t joined up properly, consumers are using their smartphones to join up channels their own way – and this means often going to retailers’ competitors to get advice and find the best deal,” adds Steve Thomas.
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