SoLoMo shopping (social-location aware-mobile) smartphone technology is undoubtedly changing the way we shop.

One of the growing shopping trends that has been annoying the hell out of retailers is‘showrooming,’ where consumers go online to research products while they are actually in-store….and then purchase the product elsewhere.

On one level price-conscious consumers have a right to research the best buy…on another it kicks sand in the face of the retailers who have invested in bricks and mortar, staff, merchandising and promotion.

Earlier this year eMarketer identified showrooming as a ‘valid concern’ for retailers…several researchers surveyed the number of US mobile phone users who have comparison-shopped via phone while in-store.


Their research has found a comparison-shopping rate ranging from 59% of US smartphone owners (InsightExpress, 2011) to 25% of US mobile phone owners (Pew Internet and American Life Project, January 2012).

  • ForeSee Results findings from between 2009 and 2011 are consistent with this trend toward using mobile phones for in- store research; however, in 2011, the shoppers surveyed were more likely to access the website or app of the store they were actually in than a competitor’s website or app. This means that retailers need to not only be concerned about how their pricing stacks up against others’, but also about pricing consistency across their own channels.’
  • A February 2012 ClickIQ survey discovered that nearly half (45.9%) of US online shoppers researched products in- store—not necessarily using smartphones—only to ultimately buy online.’

If you have any doubt about our local market these Roy Morgan findings point to the Australian market following the trend..

“More than 14.2 million Australians aged 14+ now do some kind of online activity in an average four week period, according to the latest Roy Morgan Single Source data for the 12 months to March 2012.

‘Buying, Selling, Shopping’ – has shown the most dramatic increase in recent years, up by 167% since 2008, to 7.8 million
Researched a product or service to buy’ is the second most popular online ‘Buying, Selling, Shopping’ activity, but is fastest growing, the with the number of Australians 14+ who do this in an average four week period increasing by 50% in the last 12 months alone.
This highlights the increasing popularity among consumers of doing pre-purchase research online as part of their path to purchase”

So how are smart retailers reacting to showrooming ?

Recent reports show US retailers are turning to mobile apps, shopping tools and online features that operate a lot like showrooming.  

Walmart is a good example ..have a look @walmartlabs blog and the functonality of their at their recently upgraded mobile In-Store Aisle Location and In-Store Mode which featuresscanning – price checking from product barcodes or learning more about products andspecial offers displayed in-store as QR Codes – and easy access to the Local Ad product list and general store information.

Time reports that all Target shoppers can soon use the Shopkick app, in which points, or “kicks,” are accumulated by scanning merchandise in the store. Kicks can then be traded in for gift cards, iTunes downloads, and more.

Internet Retailer reports that Best Buy is combating showrooming by allowing customers to shop online in stores. If they don’t have mobile devices handy with salespeople equipped with tablets and other devices so that they can help shoppers find more detail on products and look up reviews.

The need to be responsive to customer needs is more important than ever and it’s fascinating to watch the impact of technology on competition in the marketplace.

The pace of change will only quicken with smartphones and the trend to ‘informationalization,’  where existing products and services are made more valuable to your customers by building in more data and information into the actual product.

Are you keeping up?