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Showrooming has emotional aspect that mobile can address: report

While showrooming is a big concern, there are several steps retailers can take to encourage mobile in-store shoppers to make a purchase, according to a new report from Vibes.

While fears that showrooming shoppers will leave for a competitor are valid, the consumers who end up purchasing outside the store represents a small share of overall mobile consumers, according to the Vibes report “Mobile Consumer Report: Understanding the Showrooming Shopper.” One-quarter of showroom shoppers have left a store and gone to make a purchase at a competitor but this group represents only 6 percent of the mobile population.

“The main driver behind using mobile devices in the shopping environment is to make the shopper feel better about a purchase,” said Matt Cava, director of mobile solutions at Vibes, Chicago. “Using the mobile channel in a way to support your customers’ shopping activities is a way to support sales as well.

“The opportunity is for brands and retailers to support their products with more information and talk about their value proposition to make their customer feel more secure about a purchase,” he said.

“Who has the best price is a big factor but not every purchase is about price.”

Showrooming, or shoppers using their mobile phone in-store to comparison shop for an item online, is growing thanks to the speed of mobile browsing and the availability of shopping apps designed to make it easy for shoppers to find the best choices with just a few taps.

With the trend toward showrooming expected to grow, Vibes offers several tips for how to deal with this in-store activity.  

Tapping into mobile
The Vibes report found that 82 percent of consumers have their smartphone with them while shopping. These mobile shoppers can be broken into two groups – those who are comparison shopping and those who are conducting research so they will feel better about their purchase.

Of the consumers who scanned or text for more product information, 48 percent felt better about their purchase.

Additionally, 14 percent made a purchase they had not planned to.

The results suggest that mobile provides a unique opportunity to provide shoppers with information that makes them feel better about their purchase. This means having the right information available, including content designed around the in-store shopping experience, product ratings and suggestions for alternative products if reviews fall below a certain threshold.

“If you are looking for a new vacuum cleaner, you want to understand your options, you want to feel good,” Mr. Cava said.

“Mobile uniquely allows you to reach out in that instance with Wi-Fi or via app3 – the technology is allowing that customer to satisfy that emotional need right then and there,” he said.

Easy transactions
Key findings in the report include that, after performing in-store research via a mobile device, 29 percent of consumers ended up buying from the store’s own Web site. This shows that comparison shopping while in-store can lead to significant sales on a retailer’s own site if stores make it easy for shoppers to conduct research and transact on their mobile site.

Retailers can influence showrooming behavior by making it easy to look up a product’s availability if it is not available in the store. Additionally, mobile content should encourage online purchasing and associates should be trained to recognize showrooming and proactively approach customers with incentives to help close the sale.

The research activities shoppers commonly engage in include comparisons with a competitor’s site – 33 percent, looking up product reviews – 31 percent, scanning a QR code for information – 27 percent, researching a store’s site – 20 percent, using a company’s app – 17 percent and sending a text for information – 10 percent.

Build mobile relationships
The results also show that showroom shoppers are actively engaged with mobile, with 57 percent having redeemed a mobile coupon, 50 percent having shared location for a deal, 18 percent having checked in to get a deal and 70 percent having used NFC for a purchase.

Mobile savvy showroom shoppers provide an opportunity for retailers to build a solid relationship with these consumers, such as by building their mobile database with in-store engagements.

Showroom shoppers are also heavily engaged in a retailer’s communications channels, with 67 percent signed up to receive email, 51 percent having downloaded a retailer’s mobile app, 28 percent active on a retailer’s Facebook page, 25 percent having opted in to a mobile list. This suggests it is important for retailers and marketers to include a mobile call-to-action in all of their touch points leading up to a purchase so they do not miss an opportunity to drive revenue and foot traffic.

The report also found that shoppers who showroom are mobile savvy, a characteristic retailers should be taking advantage of. These shoppers are willing to talk to brands and participate in loyalty programs, giving retailers an opportunity to use product packaging, in-store collateral and knowledgeable associates to encourage the comparison shopper to remain loyal, either through an in-store or online purchase.

“Showrooming is not going to kill your bottom line,” Mr. Cava said.

“This is happening but we’ve uncovered a layer that is important,” he said. “It is about the emotional aspect of shopping and how mobile can make feel customers more comfortable.”

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York