Showrooming was once seen as an existential threat to bricks-and-mortar retailers, but it turns out the reverse dynamic is more popular.Reverse showrooming, where people browse online but buy in stores, is actually more common than showrooming. In the U.S., 69% of people have reverse showroomed, while only 46% have showroomed, according to a Harris poll.
Another myth around showrooming is that young people love to do it. In a recent report from BI Intelligence we look at the data and find that millennials actually prefer to reverse showroom. For electronics, shoes, sports equipment, and cosmetics, more millennials say they prefer to reverse showroom, rather than research in store and then buy online.
We look at the numbers behind showrooming and reverse showrooming, what’s driving each trend, and what the different showrooming behaviours look like.
Here’s the data on reverse showrooming and millennials:
- Only 20% of respondents between 18 and 35 years old said they preferred to make clothing purchases online, according to a study from the Urban Land Institute.
- The remainder cited various offline retail locations as their preferred way to shop for clothes — 12% specifically cited reverse showrooming as their preferred way to shop, saying they ideally do research online first and then buy in person.
- For electronics, the skew to reverse showrooming was especially strong among millennials, with 50% saying they research online and then buy in store.
Here are some of the key ways bricks-and-mortar retailers are leveraging their advantages to drive more reverse showrooming.
- Free Wi-Fi: Retailers have begun installing free Wi-Fi in their stores. This would seem like exactly the wrong approach — why give consumers an even easier means of looking up product reviews and prices online? But providing free Wi-Fi is a way to keep the consumer happy in-store and encourage use of a retailer’s own mobile sites and apps.
- Smartphone Savings Programs: Retailers like Target are rolling out in-store smartphone saving programs, which provide consumers with discounts via the retailer’s mobile app. These are also often integrated with mobile loyalty programs in which consumers earn points for making purchases.
- Bringing Social And Online Trends Offline: Taking the online retail research people are doing and weaving it into offline promotions is perhaps the most overt way to capture the attention of reverse showroomers. Over the summer, Nordstrom rolled out an in-store program that promotes the retailer’s top-pinned items on Pinterest.
- Online Ordering, In-Store Pickup: A variety of retailers, from Target to Toys “R” Us and The Container Store, have integrated their online and offline stores to provide consumers with online ordering and in-store pick-up options. Sears has even recently introduced online ordering, with drive-thru pick-up. The idea is to offer convenience — giving consumers what they want right away, without dealing with in-store frustrations.
- Customer Service: Many retailers have started working to make sure their sales staff is knowledgeable and helpful. A better-informed sales staff was by and away the most likely reason shoppers said they would be more likely to buy in store, according to a Deloitte study. (See chart, above.)
- New initiatives for the connected in-store experience keep popping up: tablets and mobile phones used as register systems, robotic arms that deliver clothing into dressing rooms, and beacon hardware, which powers in-store maps and automatic hands-free payments.
- The key rationale behind all these changes: successful retailers are beginning to think of themselves less as purveyors of goods, and more as all-around consumer resources.
In full, the report:
- Looks at the numbers behind reverse showrooming and showrooming to determine how big a discrepancy there is between the two activities
- Underscores what factors are driving people to either showroom or reverse showroom
- Explains what people are doing when they’re showrooming and reverse showrooming — what information they’re seeking and what makes them convert
- Describes some of the way retailers have begun to actively capture reverse showrooming sales
- Looks at what investments retailers are making in the next wave of technology
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