The Christmas season is one of the heaviest spending periods of the year, but new data from EE suggests the practice of ‘showrooming’ could have a big impact on Christmas shopping behaviour this year. 41% of Brits – equivalent to almost 22 million shoppers – regularly ‘showroom’ by using their mobile devices to check for better prices – and a lot more besides – while in-store.
The findings also indicate shoppers appreciate the broader selection of products found online, as 74% of shoppers prefer to browse online rather than in retailers’ physical shops. Over three quarters (79%) of shoppers research the best deals online before buying anything, and more than a third (36%) prefer to shop online wherever possible.
Across the country some areas see more showrooming than others, with London and Newcastle topping the list with 47% of shoppers admitting to showrooming. Norwich and Belfast have the fewest showroomers, at 33% and 36% respectively.
The trend is most popular with younger people – 58% of 18 to 34 year olds say they showroom while out shopping. The most common app people use to showroom is Amazon, with more than three quarters (82%) of shoppers saying they use the app to look up better prices while they’re in stores. The second most popular app for showrooming is eBay (54%), followed by Tesco (28%).
However, the physical shop is still important to British shoppers. 43% like shopping in-store more than online because it’s quicker than waiting for an item to be delivered. Additionally, the research reveals one way in which retailers can cope with the growing threat of showrooming, as over half (56%) of Brits say they would shop in-store more frequently if retailers offered price-matching deals. Additionally, many businesses are now turning their retail space into showrooms where customers can experience their products in person before purchasing via their app or website to be delivered or collected later.
To help retailers turn the increasing trend for showrooming to their advantage, particularly at the crucial Christmas trading period, EE has added to its line of Public WiFi products with 4G Public WiFi In A Box, providing plug-and-play, regulatory compliant 4G WiFi for businesses and their customers. 4G Public WiFi is designed for smaller shops and premises and builds on EE’s Public WiFi products for corporates that provide connectivity in large retailers and offices.
Jeremy Spencer, Head of Corporate Products at EE, said: “The practice of showrooming isn’t going away. It’s understandable that the threat of showrooming preys on retailers’ minds, particularly during such an important shopping season as Christmas. However, retailers actually have a significant opportunity to both engage and retain showrooming customers. Encouraging customers to look up additional information on products in-store using free Wi-Fi, offering a mobile app with digital loyalty schemes and, as our research indicates, offering to match prices found online can not only prevent showrooming in the short term, but can help keep customers coming back. Additionally, providing tablets for customers to use in-store allows people to browse online product ranges, helping to keep purchases in-store.”