Retailers undecided whether to help or hinder showrooming shoppers, study finds

Shopper behaviour under the microscope

Shopper behaviour under the microscope

Retailers are still divided over whether to help or hinder ‘showrooming’ (shoppers viewing items in-store, then checking prices and buying on their mobiles), according to research by retail and shopper creative agency Live & Breathe.

It found 13% of shoppers said they’ve found store staff don’t seem to care about this behaviour.

 Only 8% said staff tried to make them buy there and then by offering a deal, while another 8% said staff were awkward and unhelpful.

 Comparatively, stores in London seem to be the most mobile-friendly: only 3% of retail staff in the capital were unhelpful to showrooming shoppers.

 Researchers, who spoke with 1,000 shoppers around the UK, also found vouchers and discount coupons are the most in-demand mobile technology for modern shoppers: a quarter (27%) would like to see them, followed by 21% who’d like to be able to access more product details.

Perhaps surprisingly, just one in five (19%) would like free Wi-Fi to browse the internet while in-store, and only 17% would like technology to enable to them to pay immediately without queuing at a till.

 Nick Gray, managing director of Live & Breathe, said: “The use of mobiles and the role they play in ‘showrooming’ is an issue that seems to come up at every retail conference I attend. It’s not going to go away and retailers need to develop strategies to cope with it. Best Buy in the US has led the way with its pragmatic response.

“Retailers can and should take steps to encourage shoppers to buy with them in-store rather than with another retailer via their mobiles. But they must accept too that mobile phones are now an intrinsic part of shoppers’ everyday lives and that any draconian action to block their use in-store would not work in the longer term.

“Shoppers don’t seem to be too fussed about being able to pay more quickly, which is interesting given the investment by many retailers into contactless payment. Shoppers remain savvy, shown by the fact almost a third would like to be given a money-off coupon that they can use there and then, and is indicative of the current climate and the way we’re shopping.”

Shoppers were also asked how they complain if they have a bad retail experience – and it seems the image of Brits as unwilling to make a fuss is no longer true. In fact, nearly half (44%) will immediately complain to staff, 18% will do so via email and 13% will tell their friends.

However, it seems that despite the hype social media is not the complaint channel of choice: only 4% of shoppers say they’d complain on Facebook and only 2% would use Twitter.

Gray said: “Most UK shoppers know that retail is a sophisticated industry and are no longer willing to accept below-par service. Although retailers need an active social media presence to manage complaints, those who deal with issues quickly and decisively in-store are even better placed to leave a good impression in the minds of shoppers.”