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Its ads call its stores great showrooms, and shoppers do use them as such.
It’s an overused retail industry catchphrase: ‘The line between physical and digital shopping is blurring.’ What is new, however, is that one retail chain is embracing the use of a term spun from this reality that many stores fight vigorously: showrooming. The definition of showrooming varies, but in general it means using a mobile device in a store to get more product information or, as stores often fear, examine a product on their shelves then find a better price on the web and buy it online.
Best Buy, however is seeking to put its own spin on the phrase calling its stores “great showrooming floors” and using the term in the title of its holiday television ad campaign: "Your Ultimate Holiday Showroom." One of the spots set to run over the holidays features actor Will Arnett telling a story of a man going to Best Buy “the great showroom floor” and buying gifts. Then he heads home and purchases the extras he forgot online via BestBuy.com, No. 10 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide. The spot touts Best Buy’s buy online and pick up in store option and price match guarantee as well.
More consumers today are, however, employing showrooming in its most traditional sense, melding mobile commerce with shopping in stores, a report from consumer analytics research firm Parks Associates finds. The report, entitled “Mobile Commerce, Keys to Mass Adoption” is based on multiple consumer surveys of heads of households with Internet access. It finds among smartphone users buying a consumer electronics product in 2013, roughly one-half used a mobile commerce app while in the store to look up product or sales information. 19% used an app from the retailer itself, and 52% of those using apps used the store’s Wi-fi network to connect
Additionally, as consumers are becoming more familiar with mobile technology, more are exploiting it to improve their shopping experience. 34% of smartphone owners polled used bar code scanning apps to get more product information or to compare prices and 22% use mobile coupon apps. IPhone owners use bar code scanning apps slightly more than average, with 39% of iPhone owners using such technology.
And pure mobile commerce—that is buying directly via a smartphone—is growing as well, the report finds. 43% of smartphone owners polled said they had used their device to purchase goods in the last 30 days. And consumers use what the report calls “quick checkout methods” or payment options where the retailer keeps the buyer’s credit card information on file for easy checkout for about 25% of mobile purchases. Additionally, 10% of smartphone users say they have the PayPal mobile wallet app. Google Wallet comes in second with 3%.