"Showrooming" gains ground

18 April 2013
LONDON: Many in-store shoppers seeking product information are turning to mobile websites rather than salespeople, in a further indication of the rise of "showrooming", new research has revealed.

Euromonitor International, the market research firm, polled 6,200 consumers in 15 markets for its Out and About survey, and found that 35% of consumers frequently used their smartphones to check a website while in a store, compared to the 30% or so who talked to sales staff.

This trend was not universal, however, as in emerging markets, such as Brazil, India, and Colombia, more shoppers expressed a preference for the human touch.

In developed markets the reverse was true, particularly in the UK and Japan, where respondents were three times more likely to visit a website on their smartphone for shopping information than to speak with an in-store salesperson.

The country showing the greatest propensity to look at websites while in a physical store was China, where well over half of respondents did this, compared to less than 40% who talked to staff.

While some retailers have introduced in-store kiosks in an attempt to keep abreast of technological developments, these have not proved especially popular. Just 16% of respondents said they used these, while a similar proportion checked mobile apps.

Less than 10% frequently scanned QR codes, although this habit was significantly more widespread in emerging markets such as China and India. Over 40% of respondents in developed countries had never scanned a QR code for product information.

Euromonitor argued that physical stories needed to improve their own technology in order to appeal to tech-savvy shoppers, as well improving the overall shopper experience.

With many shoppers already having their own smartphone to hand, the company suggested that in-store kiosks might not be the best route and observed that some retailers now hand out iPads to shoppers when they enter the store.

These will typically be loaded with pre-determined apps and websites already open to make accessing information easier.

Data sourced from Euromonitor International; additional content by Warc staff
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