21st June – ICSC Newsletter
Despite brick-and-mortar retailers’ best efforts to keep consumers buying in-store, 40 percent of Americans have engaged in “showrooming” — handling and testing a product in a store and then purchasing that item online — according to a Harris Poll of about 2,000 Americans conducted online April 15–17. Showrooming first became a hot topic back in December, when many engaged in the practice during the holiday shopping season to try and secure the best prices.
Best Buy, Target and Walmart are the chains at which consumers are likely to showroom — 23 percent, 21 percent and 12 percent, respectively, of the respondents said they choose these stores to physically examine goods before buying online. With online retailers not obliged to collect sales taxes in many states, they enjoy a competitive advantage over physical stores when it comes to pricing.
The men surveyed tended to prefer showrooming at Best Buy over Walmart or Target — at 28 percent for the first, versus 19 percent and 10 percent, respectively, for the latter two. The largest percentage of women said their first showrooming destination is Walmart, at 23 percent. Best Buy (at 17 percent) and Target (14 percent) were close behind. On average, the men spent $210.10 showrooming, significantly higher than the women’s average of $137.10. Almost six in ten showroomers with smartphones said they prefer looking up product information on a phone to asking a salesperson for help.
The survey offers some strategies that brick-and-mortar retailers can use to discourage showrooming, according to Mike de Vere, president of the Harris Poll. Nearly 60 percent of the showroomers surveyed said they would be more likely to make purchases at stores that have implemented price-matching policies to compete with online retailers.
Retailers may also benefit from allowing consumers to place orders online for pickup at a store, de Vere says, pointing out that half the respondents said they have made purchases this way, and nearly all of them reported satisfaction with that process.