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Showrooming common across all age groups but young whippersnappers more likely to convert, study finds

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Research by eDigitalResearch and IMRG reveal that showrooming on mobile devices in store is growing rapidly and is pretty consistently used across all age groups. However, while its common practice, youngsters do less price comparison than their older counterparts, but are more likely to follow up their research with a purchase.

The figures revealed that 54% of 35-44 year old and 53% of 45-54 year old respondents had browsed mobile retail websites while in the store of another retailer. Much of this activity is likely to be comparing prices in order to get the best deal, which is a significant challenge due to the highly competitive real-time adjusting of prices online.

The 25-34 bracket appear to be the leaders in terms of follow-up in-store mobile activity, with 28% of them going on to order items while actually still in store. Of those who went on to make the purchase from a competitor, 66% stated that price was the main reason for shopping elsewhere. Price is not the only differentiator though, and the ability to make use of a customer’s mobile connectivity in order to drive engagement offers numerous possibilities.

The younger generation are not as prevalent in terms of in-store price comparison as their older counterparts, according to the figures. Just 32% of 18-24 year olds have accessed retail websites from their smartphones in-store, compared to 54% of 35-44 year olds.

Looking at in-store browsing behaviour by gender, the results revealed that males were ahead with 65% of respondents having browsed a mobile site while in the store of another retailer compared with 51% of females.

Although it is a challenge, the use of mobile is here to stay and needs to be turned to advantage and encouraged in a specific way. There are a range of different approaches to achieving this, but a key barrier to increasing digital engagement in-store is a lack of a quality internet connection. The research found that males would be more willing to use their smartphone while out shopping if free wi-fi was available (34% males, 28% females). If the experience of using mobile in-store is not positive, then any campaign launched in support of it will inevitably fall well short of expectation.

As a counterpoint however, while wi-fi may be a potential enabler of mobile in-store, the current process of obtaining user data as part of gaining access to wi-fi is a barrier. Only 6.66% of respondents said that they would be ‘very willing’ to provide some personal details to access it, while around one third (33%) said that they would ‘not be willing at all’.

Andy Mulcahy, Editor at IMRG, commented: “As these results show, using mobile in-store to access other retail sites isn’t just an activity undertaken by a specific demographic, but one that is fairly common across all age groups. Showrooming is just a part of it though, as customers actually access a wide range of different content in this context, such as news sites, social media and emails. While certainly a challenge, retailers are experimenting with ways to turn showrooming to advantage. Mobile offers retailers a platform to touch customers digitally in a way that opens up a vast array of opportunities.”

Derek Eccleston, Commercial Director at eDigitalResearch, adds: “Technology in store is becoming a major asset for both consumers and retailers alike. Understandably, some retailers are nervous about letting their customers openly browse the sites of their closest competitors whilst shopping with them. However, if executed correctly, offering customers the opportunity to enhance their in store shopping experience by connecting with them digitally can really help to increase engagement levels. These results demonstrate that different demographics are using their mobiles in different ways and that it is essential to understand how customers are using their devices in a bricks and mortar environment if retailers want to take advantage of this growing behavioural trend”.

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