Showrooming, where consumers look at products in-store but buy them from a lower-priced online competitor, isn't likely to go away. And the behavior isn't driven strictly by price either. These are among the findings in a new study out this week ahead of the start of the holiday shopping season.
Nearly three out of four (72 percent) of consumers aged 20–40 in the United States and the United Kingdom use mobile devices while in-store to compare prices, but the majority leave before making a purchase, according to a study by Accenture Interactive. The research also shows that while these consumers are concerned about online privacy, they will permit retailers to track their shopping behavior to personalize their shopping experience.
More than half (52 percent) of the 2,000 consumers surveyed in each country believe that in-store prices are higher than online prices. Sixty percent say that online prices entice them to visit a store where they can compare prices and view merchandise up close. Then, 48 percent of them go home and buy the products from that retailer online. However, 32 percent buy products online from a different retailer. Only 20 percent make their final purchase in-store.
"The showrooming trend can pose a threat to retailers, given that nearly a third of our respondents make their final online purchases with other stores," said Baiju Shah, managing director of strategy and innovation for Accenture Interactive. "But consumers don't want to shop online exclusively and our work with retailers shows that physical stores don't have to compete on price alone but rather focus on the whole experience. Retailers need to create a seamless, multi-channel experience that blends the digital and physical, and delivers convenience, price and relevance."
Personalization outweighs privacy concerns
Survey respondents said they are extremely interested in having a more personalized shopping experience, despite their concern for privacy protection. Of those surveyed, 86 percent say they are concerned about websites tracking their online shopping behavior. But 85 percent said they understand that tracking enables companies to present offers and content that matches their interests. Nearly half of the respondents — 49 percent — are receptive to their favorite stores or brands using their tracking data to inform their future purchases and make them aware of product availability.
Sixty-four percent say that when visiting a store they would be receptive to receiving text messages informing them of offers that match their past shopping interests. Sixty percent strongly agree that it is acceptable to receive advertisements on their smartphone if they opt into them.
When asked to make a choice, 64 percent of respondents say it is more important that companies present them with relevant offers against only 36 percent who say companies should stop tracking their website activity. At the same time, however, 88 percent strongly agree or agree that companies should give them the flexibility to control how their personal information is used to tailor their shopping experience.
"It is clear that consumers are demanding a more individual relationship with retailers and in the emerging 'forever prospect' model of retailing, that means service and product experience can be more critical than price," said Shah. "Consumer marketing needs to address the current disconnect between offline and online shopping and enhance the physical store front with tailored digital experiences."
Social media established at the heart of retailing
The survey confirms the importance of social media, with 92 percent of respondents more inclined to purchase from a company that makes use of social media channels. Facebook is the preferred social media channel for 67 percent of the respondents. The survey also shows that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from a company that uses online and email communications and 70 percent are more inclined to buy from companies using mobile applications.
Additionally, respondents selected Internet advertising as the channel "most likely" to steer them toward buying (47 percent), followed by radio advertising (45 percent), print (31 percent), mobile (19 percent) and television (15 percent).
Read more about this topic in the retail research center.