A brow-raising bargain price may lure shoppers into the store, but if they're mobile device users, chances are they'll leave and end up making the purchase online, an Accenture Interactive survey finds.


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Retail News Breaks

Mobile devices fuel 'showrooming' trend, poll shows

November 21st, 2012

NEW YORK – A brow-raising bargain price may lure shoppers into the store, but if they're mobile device users, chances are they'll leave and end up making the purchase online, an Accenture Interactive survey finds.

The business consulting firm's study, conducted by Coleman Parkes, polled 2,000 consumers each in the United States and the United Kingdom, with the respondents being men and women ages 20 to 40.

In the United States, 75% of consumers said they use their smartphone to compare prices while in-store. But 46% wind up making the purchase online, 34% end up going to a different store and 20% buy the item in the store they originally visited.

Fifty-five percent of U.S. consumers agreed that online prices sway them to visit the brick-and-mortar store to see the product but then they go home to buy the product online. A key reason: 46% think physical store prices are higher, and just 23% believe the online and brick-and-mortar store prices are about the same.

"The showrooming trend can pose a threat to retailers, given that nearly a third of our respondents make their final online purchases with other stores," according to Baiju Shah, managing director of strategy and innovation at Accenture Interactive. "But consumers don't want to shop online exclusively, and our work with retailers shows that physical stores don't have to compete on price alone but rather focus on the whole experience. Retailers need to create a seamless, multichannel experience that blends the digital and physical and delivers convenience, price and relevance."

Of U.S. shoppers, 58% said it's very important for the online offering to match the in-store offering for the product description, 40% said that's very important in terms of product availability and 27% agreed that's very important for price.

If the online offering doesn't match the in-store offering on price, 42% of shoppers buy the item in the brick-and-mortart store and 46% buy it via their mobile device. If the product isn't in stock online, 28% will purchase it in-store and 62% will buy it using their smartphone. And if the online description doesn't match what's in-store, 51% of consumers will purchase the product at the physical store.

The survey also shows that the consumers polled by Accenture Interactive are extremely interested in having a more personalized shopping experience, despite some concerns about privacy protection. Sixty-five percent of U.S. shoppers said they would be receptive to receiving text messages when visiting a store informing them of offers that match their past shopping interests, and 57% "strongly agree" that it's acceptable to receive advertisements on their smartphone if they opt into them.

Despite the fact that 82% of U.S. consumers surveyed said they're concerned about websites tracking their online shopping behavior, 80% are aware that such tracking occurs but they understand that tracking enables companies to present offers and content that matches their interests. Fifty-one percent of U.S. respondents indicated they're receptive to their favorite stores or brands using their tracking data to inform their future purchases and make them aware of product availability.

When asked to make a choice, 61% percent of U.S. shoppers said it's more important that companies present them with relevant offers, against 39% who say companies should stop tracking their website activity. At the same time, however, 88% strongly agree or agree that companies should give them the flexibility to control how their personal information is used to tailor their shopping experience.

"It is clear that consumers are demanding a more individual relationship with retailers and in the emerging 'forever prospect' model of retailing — that means service and product experience can be more critical than price," explained Shah. "Consumer marketing needs to address the current disconnect between offline and online shopping and enhance the physical store front with tailored digital experiences."

Social media is important as well. Of all respondents in the U.S. and U.K., 92% said they're more inclined to buy from a company that makes use of social media channels. For 67% of all consumers, Facebook is the preferred social media channel. The survey also showed that 80% of consumers in both nations are more likely to buy from a company that uses online and e-mail communications and 70% are more inclined to buy from companies using mobile applications.

In addition, 47% of respondents cited Internet advertising as the channel "most likely" to steer them toward buying, followed by radio commercials (45%), print ads (31%), mobile ads (19%) and television commercials (15%).

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