December 10, 2012, 1:57 PM

43% of U.S. adults participate in showrooming

And they do it at Best Buy stores most often, a new poll shows.

Katie Evans

Managing Editor, International Research

Lead Photo

43% of U.S. adults have participated in showrooming, according to a new survey of 2,249 consumers conducted by the Harris Poll from Nov. 27-29. Showrooming takes place when a shopper goes to a store to test out merchandise and then searches the web—often from a mobile device while in the store—for a better deal and ultimately buys the item online.

Best Buy Co. ranked as the No. 1 store where consumers showroomed, with 24% of respondents saying they visited a Best Buy store and then purchased goods they tested out there at a web retailer. Consumers spent $281 on average online after trying out a product in a Best Buy store, the poll finds. Men (30%) are more likely to report Best Buy as their top showrooming location than women (17%). Average online spending is much higher among consumers who typically visit a Best Buy store and then buy online than among shoppers who do in-store research at Wal-Mart Stores Inc. or Target Corp. and then make a purchase on the web. Wal-Mart showrooming shoppers spent $119.10 online and those who used Target as a showroom spent $79.30.

Wal-Mart ranked as the second most popular store for showrooming, with 22% saying they looked at products there. Wal-Mart was followed by Target (9%), Home Depot Inc. (4%), Lowe’s Cos. Inc. (3%) and Barnes & Noble (3%). For both Wal-Mart and Target, women said they showroomed in those stores more often than men. 27% of women and 18% of men showroomed at Wal-Mart, and 12% of women and 7% of men did so at Target.

After consumers check out items at stores, they most often wind up buying online at Inc. 57% of consumers say they most frequently bought from Amazon after visiting a bricks-and-mortar store. EBay Inc. and Wal-Mart tied for a distant second at 5% each. 

Some shoppers wind up buying from the online version of the bricks-and-mortar store where they showroomed.  For example, 12% of Target showroomers go online to purchase from, 11% of Wal-Mart showroomers purchase from, and 8% of Best Buy showroomers purchase from Best Buy online. Spending is also significantly higher among male showroomers ($269.80) than among their female counterparts ($148.70).

A recent poll from web measurement firm comScore Inc. shows similar results as the Harris poll. Nearly four in 10, or 37%, of consumers that comScore polled this year say they checked out products in stores and then bought online. However, only a fraction of those consumers answered “Yes” to that question when comScore didn’t describe what showrooming was, illustrating that many consumers don’t use the term to describe browsing in stores and then buying online.

Best Buy is No. 25 in the Internet Retailer Mobile 400. Wal-Mart is No. 6, Target No. 34 and Amazon No. 1.

Comments | 1 Response

  • Your article implies that there are bands of marauding consumers making trips to the mall purely to showroom! This is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek, but the way that consumers buy is fundamentally cross channel. The average online purchase will take 5 interactions and 1.6 channels. Showrooming is a component part of the overall buying process. In order to do this subject justice, you need to consider the process in reverse: where customers research online then buy in store. It is after all a two way process, and this research has only looked at one half of the story. What the big box retailers need to focus on is making the in store experience fundamentally more satisfying in order to compete with online retailers. That means getting reasonably close on price, but providing a great in-store experience that is fun and sensory (touch, feel, smell, try on) and have fun shopping. Unfortunately great customer service and advice is often lacking in big box stores. Multi-channel retailers arguably have a fundamental advantage: research online – experience in store – buy in-store or online – return in store. Coupled with keen prices, a great face to face expertise from staff and a fun shopping experience, and this is a winning formula.

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