UK consumers use mobiles to find best deals while in store, EE reports

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Almost half of British consumers regularly practice ‘showrooming’, using mobile devices to check for the best prices in-store, according to new research by EE, the UK digital communications company.

The research shows over 20m consumers (equivalent to 44% of total shoppers) now visit physical stores to browse products while using mobile devices to find the best deals online.

The findings also show consumers feel let down by limited product availability in shops, as 77% of people prefer to browse products ranges online rather than in retailers’ physical shops. People now prefer to buy products online where possible, and 88% always research the best deals online before they buy anything.

London is the UK’s most active location for showrooming, with 51% of residents admitting to the practice. Demographically, the trend is most popular with young people – 53% of 18 to 34 year olds say they showroom while out shopping.

To help retailers turn showrooming to their advantage, EE now provides a fully managed branded public Wi-Fi service in-store as part of its Connected Retail proposition.

Agata Laight, senior propositions manager for Connected Retail at EE, said: “Our research shows the practice of showrooming isn’t going away, but it also presents a significant omni-channel opportunity for retailers.

“John Lewis has turned the trend to its advantage by introducing a mobile app that encourages customers to use their device to get additional information on products in-store, by providing free Wi-Fi and by offering price promises. By doing this, John Lewis is building loyalty with its customers so they’re more likely to buy from them, whether in-store or online. As a result, mobile now accounts for 40% of their customer traffic.”