Foe to Friend: Using Mobile to Turn ‘Showroomers’ into Buyers – Study

By Sam Gopal | 24 May 2013

The latest Mobile Life study from TNS confirms the threat posed to retailers from ‘showrooming’. But maybe mobile is being seen as the enemy when it should be seen as a friend. Opportunities prevail to turn browsers into buyers.

TNS has released its annual Mobile Life study revealing one-third of mobile users globally ‘showroom’, a major threat to retailers.

The study was conducted between 20 November 2012 and 4 February 2013 and is based on responses from 38,000 people in 43 countries. It focuses on how people use their mobile device and the opportunities available to retailers to counteract the threat posed from ‘showrooming’.

More people visit stores purely to suss products out, looking for reassurance on price and suitability, with 12 percent of Australian consumers checking reviews and social media while in-store to inform their decision-making. These external influences can result in them leaving without buying, despite skilled staff being on hand to help and advise. But the study confirms 27 percent of Australian respondents like to access information on their mobile rather than speak to sales assistants in-store, 13 percent even preferring a ‘virtual sales assistant’.

Despite this seemingly negative outlook, the results also highlight customers are open to engaging with brands while in-store. With more than a quarter of smartphone owners in Australia keen to receive mobile coupons while shopping, and the same percentage expressing interest in apps to help navigate them through the store, retailers are being provided with major opportunities to engage with people at the point when they are considering a purchase.

“Mobile might seem like an enemy by opening up the retail environment to a potentially limitless range of competitors,” says Jonathan Sinton, Executive Director at TNS, “however the key for brands and retailers is to find ways to make buying in-store the best option by saving the consumer time, money or effort. By understanding exactly how consumers are using mobiles in their stores, brands and retailers can improve their offer – whether through apps, mobile coupons or simply better service – and encourage more shoppers to complete their transactions in store, be it via mobile or at the cash register.”

He adds: “In many cases seeing a product in person remains a critical step in the consumer journey. The growth of in-store research and price checking presents the risk of turning retail stores into loss-making display cabinets so rather than seeing mobile as a threat to in-store sales, brands and retailers must embrace it as the most immediate and personalised way to engage shoppers to ensure they don’t leave empty-handed.”

Mobile Life, TNS infographic

Infographic from TNS’s ‘Mobile Life’

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