TNS

Mobile is both curse and cure for retailers at risk from showroomers

24 April 2013 – Latest research findings released today by TNS reveal that mobile can play a valuable role in reducing the risk that ‘showrooming’ poses to retailers. ‘Showrooming’, where people visit stores only to test products but buy them later elsewhere, has emerged as a significant threat to the high street in recent years, with one third of mobile users globally admitting to ‘showrooming’ behaviour.

TNS’s annual Mobile Life study, based on responses from 38,000 people in 43 countries, shows that whilst showrooming is a very real threat, mobile can offer a solution to brands in minimising this risk. Among those who showroom, two thirds use their phone whilst doing so, providing a major opportunity for brands to interact with consumers via mobile and turn browsers into buyers.

Matthew Froggatt, Chief Development Officer at TNS, said, “The impact of digital development, mobile Internet and online shopping are coming together in a way that is posing a very real threat to traditional bricks and mortar retailers. However, there is also opportunity to mitigate that risk for brands that get their customer engagement right.”

Some behaviours - such as using a mobile to conduct independent research in-store - do present risks to retailers, as external influences may increase a shopper’s likelihood of leaving without making a purchase. However, the study shows that people are open to engaging with brands whilst in-store, with more than one fifth of smartphone owners keen to receive mobile coupons whilst shopping and a similar proportion interested in apps that help them navigate the store they are in.

Meanwhile one in ten (13 percent) of consumers are interested in a ‘virtual sales assistant’, who will help answer their questions in-store about a particular product. This openness to interacting does present a real opportunity for brands that get their mobile strategy right, to engage meaningfully with people at the point when they are considering a purchase.

Matthew Froggatt continued, “People still want the reassurance of seeing a product before they buy it, but actually purchasing elsewhere means retail outlets are left as loss-making display cabinets. 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.”

Showrooming is a global phenomenon, but the role played by mobile varies significantly across the world. In markets where people’s first introduction to the Internet has been via a handset, shoppers are highly likely to use their mobile when showrooming – 75 percent in emerging Asia, 87 percent in the Middle East and North Africa and 67 percent in Sub-Saharan Africa. People in developed markets, where online shopping is well established, are less likely to do so, with 55 percent of showroomers in North America and 56 percent in Europe using their phones in this way.

“In developed markets, mobile presents an opportunity to break established showrooming behaviours and make purchasing in retail more appealing. However in emerging markets, where there is a greater tendency to embrace disruptive behaviours, there is an imminent threat of new showrooming behaviour driven by mobile,” commented Froggatt.

The biggest drivers for showrooming consumers are twofold: reassurance on price and reassurance on suitability, with 16 percent globally reading reviews or checking social media whilst in-store to inform their decision-making, and a quarter asking friends and family what they would recommend buying (as high as 49 percent in emerging Asia and 42 percent in India).  

Knowledgeable sales staff remain a valuable asset, with over a third of people preferring to speak to a sales assistant, whilst the same number would like to look up information on their phone instead, rising to two-fifths of 16-30 year olds. While people continue to choose diverse ways of seeking the reassurance they require, an integrated approach meeting customer needs at all touchpoints is essential.

Froggatt concludes, “Mobile might seem like the enemy – opening up the retail environment to a potentially limitless range of competitors. However, the key for brands and retailers is to find ways to make buying in-store the convenient option. Anything that saves the consumer time, money or angst will help reduce the flow of people out of the shop to purchase elsewhere. In understanding exactly how consumers are using their mobile in-store, brands and retailers can improve their own offering – whether through apps, mobile coupons or simply greater provision of information - and begin to nudge shoppers back towards the tills.”

- ENDS –

Notes to editors

An infographic exploring the findings from the study in more detail is available at www.tnsglobal.com/mobilelife

About Mobile Life

Mobile Life is a global study that draws on the behaviours, motivations and priorities of 38,000 mobile users in 43 countries. With global mobile penetration at 92% across the markets studied, and consumers engaging with an ever-increasing range of services on their phone, the survey looks at how people are interacting with mobile and the opportunities this presents for brands.

TNS has conducted this study for eight years to provide an accurate picture of changing mobile trends and brand opportunities over time, helping companies to develop their business and marketing strategies via mobile.

The study was conducted across 43 different markets between 20 November 2012 and 4 February 2013.

 

About TNS

TNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching and stakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presence in over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understands individual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.

TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. Please visit www.tnsglobal.com for more information.

 

About Kantar

Kantar is one of the world's largest insight, information and consultancy groups. By uniting the diverse talents of its 13 specialist companies, the group aims to become the pre-eminent provider of compelling and inspirational insights for the global business community. Its 28,500 employees work across 100 countries and across the whole spectrum of research and consultancy disciplines, enabling the group to offer clients business insights at each and every point of the consumer cycle. The group’s services are employed by over half of the Fortune Top 500 companies.

 For further information, please visit us at www.aboutkantar.com

For more information please contact:

Zoë Lawrence
TNS
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