Survey: Why People Shop Locally, Price-Matching Works to Stop Showrooming

In April Harris Interactive conducted an online consumer survey about "showrooming" and related consumer attitudes about online and offline buying. The survey had 2,114 respondents, 824 of whom said they had showroomed: "ever visited a brick and mortar store to examine a product before purchasing it elsewhere online."

Accordingly 39% of the April 2013 survey population had engaged in showrooming at some point. That's actually down from 43% in November 2012 according to Harris.

Best Buy, Wal-Mart and Target are the three major US retailers that are most often "victimized" by showrooming, though the order is different for men and women. This compares to a study (tracking actual store visits) with slightly different results, conducted in February by Placed:

gender showrooming index

According to the Harris study Amazon is by far the most-used online comparison point for in-store smartphone shoppers. A relatively small percentage also or alternatively consult eBay.

Harris also found that price-matching strategies being adopted by retailers are likely to succeed in combatting showrooming. A large majority of those who said they had "showroomed" also said this policy would make them more likely to buy in stores:

Price matching in stores

Source: Harris Interactive (4/13)

Survey respondents simultaneously indicated they like the option to "buy online and pick up in store." In terms of same-day delivery from an e-commerce provider, however, a majority (77%) said they would NOT be willing to pay more for the service. For those willing to pay the majority (56%) said between $1 and $5 was a tolerable range.

The survey also affirmed many of the familiar reasons that people prefer to shop locally vs. online:

  1. Being able to take the item home immediately (86%)
  2. Taking advantage of sales in store (84%)
  3. Not having to deal with the hassles of returning online such as paying for shipping and/or having to pack item (83%)
  4. Ability to touch and feel item (83%)

Being able to "talk with a salesperson" in stores was only valued by 57% of survey respondents. Indeed, a majority (60%) strongly agreed that they "would rather use [a] smartphone to search for information about a product than ask a salesperson for help."

I suspect the latter finding is a result of years of experiences with low-paid and generally poorly trained salespeople in retail stores.