Showrooming and the Rise of the Mobile-Assisted Shopper

Have you found a product you liked in a store, but then purchased it later online, or maybe on your smartphone right there in the store? If you answered yes, you are part of the "showrooming" phenomenon that has concerned retailers for years.

Given the growing penetration of the smartphone market, Columbia’s Center on Global Brand Leadership, in collaboration with global loyalty experts from Aimia, sought to better understand how these new mobile-assisted shoppers ("M-Shoppers") were actually using their devices in store aisles.

We surveyed 3,000 consumers in three markets (US, UK, Canada) to examine how smartphone owners use their devices in-store and then analyzed what strategies retailers needed to consider for these mobile-assisted shoppers. 

Our study found that all M-Shoppers are not the same. We identified five unique segments of M-Shoppers, each with different attitudes toward physical stores, patterns of showrooming, and motivations to pull out their phone or tablet within a store. We uncovered some threats, but also several opportunities for retailers to strategically enable M-Shoppers to use their phones as part of the shopping experience.