Showrooming – the practice of visiting a physical store to check prices and products before buying them elsewhere or online – has become a problem for retailers in the smartphone age. But a recent study suggests most Canadian smartphone users aren’t doing it.
The study, done by International Data Corporation Canada, surveyed 582 Canadians with smartphones between March 17 and March 23. It found that 46% or respondents had checked the price of a product in-store against other retailers.
“The rate of smartphone adoption has been quickening, and with the rate of adoption comes this comfortability with using the phone for more and more things,” says Leslie Hand, research director of IDC retail insights, adding that retailers have played a role as well. “We’ve seen a lot of investments from the retail side in Canada in terms of building up e-commerce and mobile capabilities, so they’re giving the consumer that opportunity to have this richer shopping journey with many more stops along the way.”
By The Numbers
While the IDC study suggests showroom is not yet the norm, it did find that smartphones are used in a variety of ways throughout the retail experience. Among the study’s participants…
Had used their smartphone to look up a store’s location or hours
Had downloaded at least one shopping app
Had typed in a shopping list and checked it
Had used their smartphone to call, text or message someone while shopping to ensure they were making the right purchase
Sent someone a photo they’d taken of an item
Looked up product information on their phone instead of asking an employee
Scanned a QR code in the store
“Given the time they have been around, the use of QR codes in the retail environment has been a disappointment so far,” says Tony Olvet, group vice-president of research at IDC Canada.
The American Example
American shoppers are more likely to embrace the smartphone shopping experience. In a U.S. study done by IDC over the Christmas shopping season, 70% of respondents said they check prices on their phones, and 53% looked for deals. It also found one in five shoppers purchased an item from elsewhere on their phone – while still in the store. In the U.S., the most popular shopping apps are Amazon, eBay and Groupon. (The info on the most popular apps for Canadians wasn’t available at press time.)
“I’ve been saying for a couple of years now that Canadian retailers were a couple of years behind their colleagues in the States, because mobile adoption was about two years ahead,” says Hand, adding that the survey “demonstrates that mobile has come to Canada.”