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More and more consumers are using their mobiles for 'showrooming', checking prices and product information while shopping in stores. 

According to JiWire's Mobile Audience Insights Report for Q2 2013, there has been a 25% increase in the use of mobiles in retail stores, which has significant implications for retailers. 

The report also looks at the use of wi-fi by smartphone users, finding that more and more are online via public wi-fi. 

Where are people using mobiles? 

Of the commercial venues where people use mobiles, 31% are retail locations, with the most popular being clothing stores (28%), convenience stores (18%) and speciality stores (12%). 

Increase in showrooming habits

JiWire's stats show that more and more consumers are using their mobiles in store, a 25% rise from Q1 2012. 

The main in-store mobile activities are comparison shopping (59%), looking for coupons (48%) and searching for product reviews (47%). 

This can be a challenge for retailers, but there are opportunities here too. I have written about how retailers can 'combat' showrooming in more detail, but to address the three main activities mentioned above, here are some solutions. 

Comparison shopping

This is the trickiest thing for retailers to fight against. Put simply, if you sell the same product as Amazon, and it's more expensive in your store, you will lose sales to the online giant. 

You could perhaps offer price match, as Best Buy has done in the past, though the problem is that few offline businesses can afford to do this on a long term basis. If you can cross-sell at the same time, it may work, but it isn't a long-term tactic.

Another way is to offer as many exclusive products as possible, so that it is impossible to find an equivalent on Amazon, though this is not possible for everyone. 

I would also recommend that retailers have their own mobile sites and apps so that some customers will use these rather than just heading to Amazon. 

Looking for coupons

This is more of an opportunity for bricks and mortar retailers. If customers are turning to Google and looking for coupons, then stores can use mobile search and PPC to appeal to shoppers in the local area. 

One great example is Meat Pack (though downloading its app was necessary). The Guatemalan shoe store managed to 'steal' shoppers from competitors by offering a discount to shoppers in their vicinity. 

Shoppers were offered a 99% discount, which reduced by 1% every second. The user then had to run to the nearest Meat Pack store where the timer would stop as soon as they entered, leaving them with whatever discount percentage was still displayed.  

Within one week of the campaign launching, Meat Pack had stolen over 600 shoppers from competitors and one very speedy customer managed to get 89% off a pair of shoes! 

Reviews

This is something that can easily be addressed by offline retailers in a number of ways. Firstly, by directing mobile users to their own mobile sites and apps where they can access reviews.

This reduces the likelihood that people will head to Amazon looking for reviews, where they may also see more attractive prices. 

Another option is to display reviews in stores, so that customers can access consumer reviews without the need to head online. 

Use of wi-fi

The stats also show that more and more mobile users are connecting to wi-fi using smartphones and tablets:

A previous JiWire survey found that, for 44% of all age groups, the availability of in-store wi-fi influences where they shop. 

Research and purchase behaviour by device

The stats suggest that smartphones are as effective as laptops for driving customers into stores, which make sense given the increased use while out shopping. 

  • Smartphone researchers almost equally buy on their smartphone as they do in-store.
  • Regardless of how consumers research retail offerings, each category shows at least one third choosing to purchase in-store.
  • While purchasing in-store is the most popular for those who research in-store, showrooming may still be an issue for retailers as 37% purchase on a smartphone or tablet after researching in-store.

Graham Charlton

Published 20 August, 2013 by Graham Charlton

Graham Charlton is the former Editor-in-Chief at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter or connect via Linkedin or Google+

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Comments (2)

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Gavin Wheeldon

Clearly showrooming is a major issue for retailers who pay for the physical space and staff. I think there are some interesting technologies around with WiFi, location tracking and realtime couponing that will offer retailers a way to intelligently offer discounts based on what somebody is doing in their store right at that point

about 3 years ago

Avatar-blank-50x50

Gavin Wheeldon

Clearly showrooming is a major issue for retailers who pay for the physical space and staff. I think there are some interesting technologies around with WiFi, location tracking and realtime couponing that will offer retailers a way to intelligently offer discounts based on what somebody is doing in their store right at that point

about 3 years ago

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