A new study by IBM found that efforts by big box stores to eliminate showrooming behavior did pay off somewhat in 2013. A lower amount of money was spent by shoppers who went to a store to test a product, and then went online to buy it – usually at a lower price.
The study, which was released as the National Retail Federation convention this week, found that showrooming is not as much of a threat to big box stores, such as Best Buy.
The number of shoppers who engaged in showrooming last year was a bit higher, but the spending that is related to the behavior was lower. About 50% of online purchases in 2012 were due to showrooming, compared with 30% last year.
Big box stores are making a strong effort to cut down on showrooming. They try to make the in store experience unique, as they improve the quality of customer service and they offer more free giveaways to get more traffic in the door. But another big help was that the traditional retailers did better at integrating online and in store product offers. This means that many stores were showing the same prices online as in the stores.
The best example of this was Best Buy at the holidays, as they tried to fight showrooming by embracing the behavior. The corporate office said that it would compete with Wal Mart and Amazon in pricing. It also tried to offer the latest technologies at a price comparable to Amazon. And Best Buy also offered its Low Price Guarantee, so customers could have more confidence they were getting a better deal.
It appears that more shoppers are just going online to buy their products rather than visiting box stores. But, ShopperTrak did report over the holidays that in store retail sales did increase by 3%. Some experts think that some shoppers went online to research products and then visited the local store knowing what they wanted to buy. This behavior tends to happen more now because of the great increase in shopping by mobile device.
Even though the economy is still not that strong, data is suggesting that 2013 holiday shopping did increase overall from previous years.
It will be interesting to see how retail stores continue to fight showrooming in the future. It is thought that the demise of Circuit City and Border’s largely was due to the practice.