Marketing’s Weekly Dose of the Truth

Ken Magill

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More Evidence 'Showrooming' Threat is Overblown

2/5/13

By Ken Magill

Fifty eight percent of cell phone owners used their phones for recommendations, reviews or price comparisons in a bricks-and-mortar store this Christmas shopping season, according to a recently released study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

Twenty seven percent of cell phone owners used their phones inside a store to look up a product and see if they could find a better price elsewhere, according to Pew Internet.

And of the 27 percent who price checked in a store, 12 percent bought the product online.

So what does this say about so-called showrooming, where people supposedly use bricks-and-mortar stores as showrooms and then research and buy with their smartphones online?

It says 3.24 percent (27 X 0.12) of the universe of cell phone owners price checked in a store and bought online.

It doesn’t say how many times that 3.24 percent showroomed this Christmas shopping season. It says they said they did it at least once.

I think we can safely assume that 3.24 percent didn’t showroom all their Christmas shopping. And I think we can safely assume the majority of that 3.24 percent didn’t showroom the majority of their Christmas shopping.

So it would seem showrooming overall is pretty low.

However, this isn’t to discount (get it? discount?) cell phone usage during shopping.

According to Pew Internet, 46 percent of cell phone users said they called a friend or relative for buying advice while Christmas shopping in stores in 2012.

Also, 28 percent of cell phone users said they used the phones to look up reviews of a product while Christmas shopping in stores in 2012, according to Pew Internet.

According to information presented by email intelligence firm Return Path during a webinar I recently did with them, the majority of retail emails went out on Fridays during the 2012 Christmas shopping season.

It’ll be interesting to see if any of that volume shifts to Saturday in 2013 as retailers respond to consumer in-store cell phone usage.

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