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A new report from Verdict, reported here, labels 'showrooming' as a myth, basing this on the finding that only 2% of respondents had bought an item online while at a retailer's store.
I'm not convinced, having seen plenty of evidence of the growing use of mobiles when shopping offline, whether to purchase there and then or to check prices from rival retailers.
So is it a myth? Let's have a look at the evidence...
High street retailers are losing up to £1bn of sales per month due to poor stock management, as customers leave stores downcast and empty handed as their item or size isn't available.
While the high street is facing many difficult challenges, this is something that be solved relatively easily with the help of the internet.
According to a YouGov survey commissioned by Venda, 38% of 2,043 respondents have left stores without making an intended purchase as the item they wanted was unavailable.
So, let's look at how stores can address this problem, and save some of those lost sales...
It's difficult to believe that the iPad only launched three years ago. Everyone knew a naysayer: 'Why do I need it? I have a laptop, I have a mobile – the iPad is just a gimmick somewhere in between'.
There's a heavy sense of deja vu with Google Glass. The naysayers of the world once again unite to knock a device before it has even had time to get off the ground.
Perhaps they will be proved correct or, as with the iPad, the naysayers will eat their words and Google Glass will become the new must have device.
Columbia Business School and Aimia have just produced a detailed report on showrooming, using data from respondents in the US, UK and Canada.
The report contains some valuable insights into what motivates mobile users to buy online instead of in-store, and how retailers can respond to the challenge.
I've been asking report authors David Rogers and Matt Quint about the study...
Many retailers are understandably worried about shoppers using their mobiles to compare prices and the threat posed by online-only retailers, which can often beat offline prices.
However, there is much to be learned about the motivation of mobile shoppers. It seems some intend to buy online no matter what but there is potential for shops to turn others around with great in-store experiences, discounts and rewards.
Columbia Business School and Aimia have just produced a report on showrooming, which contains some useful stats.
Here's a selection from the report, along with a few of our suggestions for retailers to deal with the 'threat' of showrooming.
The use of digital technology in bricks and mortar stores has increased rapidly over the last few years.
I've deliberately excluded mobile here, as that will be the topic of my next article, but here are a few examples of how retailers are using interactive mirrors, video, and touchscreens to enchance the in-store experience for shoppers.
More than half (57%) of smartphone owners have used their device to search for information while out shopping, according to data from our new Mobile Commerce Compendium.
The most common smartphone activity was comparing prices (63%) with other retailers, followed by looking for a discount voucher online (42%) and looking for product information or other options on a different retailer’s website (34%).
This raises a difficult dilemma for retailers, as the natural urge is to try and prevent customers from shopping at their competitors using the mobile web but in reality it’s impossible to prevent people from doing it.
Pop-up shops are temporary outlets, which allow brands to have a presence on the high street, or to extend their existing offline presence into new areas for a short time.
They have been used by a number of brands and retailers over the last few years, sometimes for experiential marketing, other times as a direct sales channel.
While brands like lastminute.com have used them to promote campiagns, others, such as eBay, have used pop-up shops as a direct sales channel.
The online auction giant opened a temporary store near Oxford Street in the run up to Christmas 2011, selling items via QR code displays.
In this extract from our How the Internet Can Save the High Street report, I'll look at the pros and cons of pop-up shops...
A month ago, I wrote a post questioniong whether Primark was mad to ignore ecommerce, after it had said it had no plans to sell online.
Strangely, for a post and discussion on an internet marketing blog, the general consensus was that Primark's offline only strategy was a good idea for such a low margin retailer.
Yesterday however, Primark started selling a limited range of clothes via ASOS. So is this a good idea?
Obviously, we're big believers in ecommerce at Econsultancy, and we would advise any retailer to start selling online, if they aren't already doing so, but one big name still doesn't see the virtues of online retail: Primark.
I've written in the past about retailers that have shied away from online retail, and most of these retailers have since taken the plunge.
So, is Primark missing out as other fashion retailers grow their online sales, or is its business model somehow less suited to the internet?
I was both delighted and dismayed to read last week about the creation of the government led, Future High Streets Forum.
If you haven’t heard about it, the forum brings together leaders across retail, property and business to ‘advise government on the challenges facing high streets and to help develop practical policies to enable town centres to adapt and change’.
Sounds fantastic I thought. Clearly, the high street is suffering. We’ve seen a number of big name casualties over the last couple of years (and many thousands of smaller independents go under that receive little or no publicity). A walk through my home city of Brighton provides evidence enough that all is not well with the high street with boarded up properties aplenty.
Therefore, a group that includes high-level representatives from the likes of Alliance Boots, Costa Coffee, John Lewis Partnership and The British Retail Consortium, with a remit to ‘focus on future high street renewal’, must be a good thing.
But then I read the fine print…and sighed…heavily.
Showrooming, whether retailers like it or not, is here to stay. In fact, as smartphone usage grows, it's only going to increase.
Naturally, as retailers see the threat of people using their mobiles to compare prices and buy elsewhere, they are concerned about this trend.
But what can they do about it?
Here are a few suggestions for tactics that offline and multichannel retailers can use...