GroupM Next Reports Increase in Showrooming, But Finds Ways to Influence In-Store Purchases

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While GroupM Next's
just-released survey of 1,000 shoppers from across the country shows 45% of retail-store
customers will walk out and complete their purchase online for a discount as
low as 2.5%, there are ways for retailers to tip the scales in their favor and
get some of those customers to buy the items in the store.

Showrooming is the
relatively new and growing habit of consumers conducting price comparisons on a
mobile device while in a store, and then leaving to purchase the item online at
a lower price. But the report by GroupM Next says there are ways for retailers
to combat showrooming, and particular demographics of consumers who are not
influenced by those practices.

When a retailer can
communicate a "must-have-now" aspect to a consumer's brand purchase,
it can combat some aspect of showrooming, the survey says. That's why it's
important to have sales associates throughout the store to help answer customer
questions and tout the products and convenience of just carrying them out of
the store. The survey found that smaller products with a greater
sense of urgency on behalf of the consumer, like headphones, will likely be
purchased in-store, while larger, heavier items are more prone to showrooming.

The survey shows
that customers who interact with an in-store sales associate are 12.5% more
likely to purchase in-store. And if the retailer can stay within 5% of the
online price, nearly half of the potential showroomers will choose to complete
their purchases in the store.

The GroupM Next
report says several retailers are taking steps to enhance in-store customer
experiences. Target is offering more in-store exclusive items, while Wal-Mart
is giving customers easy access to in-store coupons and lower prices on its
mobile app to encourage shoppers to showroom within the store in a more
controlled way.

Best Buy is starting
to explore opening stores that focus on small items like tablets and e-readers,
rather than big-ticket items like TVs. Macy's and Nordstrom are integrating
their online and offline inventories so that customers can make sure a store
has their item in stock and if not, that the item can be shipped from a
different store location.

The survey indicates
that the practice of showrooming is growing and is not just a fad. The average
showroomer profile includes younger consumers, primarily female, who frequently
shop online and earn a lower income. And overall, 43.7% of those surveyed said
they use a mobile device inside a store to assist in shopping.

But there are also
the marginal showroomers that retailers can target. Those sensitive to pricing,
but can be influenced to stay in-store to make the purchase are 90% male, with
an average age of 52 and a median income of $60,000; 98% also have some college
or higher education. Of the marginal showroomers, 55% buy online once per month,
21% buy online once per week and 11% buy more than once per week.

GroupM Next director
of research Patrick Monteleone says, "Nearly 10% of purchasers we surveyed
chose to complete their purchase in-store, no matter the price discount offered
[online]. They key for marketers is to identify the next 10%; the group of
customers that are sensitive to price, but can be swayed to stay
in-store."

The GroupM Next
report says "the store was once the final destination for purchases by
consumers. Now it is becoming another step along the journey."

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