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Who checks in stores before buying online? Everyone, says one study

November 08, 2013|By Tiffany Hsu
  • Shipping orders go by on a conveyor belt at Amazon's San Bernardino Fulfillment Center.
Shipping orders go by on a conveyor belt at Amazon's San Bernardino… (Kevork Djansezian / Getty…)

Showrooming: It’s a retail phenomenon that brick-and-mortar chains have hustled to shut down, in which shoppers check out products in person before buying them online at a discount.

It’s a tactic that 100% of consumers have used at least occasionally, according to a new study released weeks before the key Black Friday shopping scrum.

The survey, from e-retailing platform CommerceHub, is on the smaller side, with just 300 respondents.

But 43% of those people said they showroom once or twice a year, nearly 29% said they do it six times a year, 22% said they do it once a month and about 6% said they do it once a week.

Nearly three-quarters of the respondents said they like to touch and see electronics in stores before buying them on the Internet, while more than half saying they do the same for clothing.

Their reasoning varies -- 78% said they showroom because the online deals are better, while nearly 47% said they want to avoid sizing snafus. About a third blamed indecisiveness.

Retailers with physical and digital presences, however, need not fret. The study found that nearly 85% of respondents said they were likely to purchase products viewed in a brick-and-mortar store from the same company’s website.

Still, several retailers have launched initiatives this holiday season to combat e-commerce powerhouses such as and Ebay. In August, both Wal-Mart and Toys R Us pledged to price-match other competitors.

A separate report earlier this month from Adobe concluded that physical retailers can use showrooming to their advantage.

Researchers in that study said they analyzed nearly half a trillion visits to more than 2,000 retail sites over the past seven years and discovered that nearly four in 10 consumers shop online while browsing in a store.

“Retailers that offer more sophisticated, holiday-focused mobile apps, geo-fencing and location-based promotional strategies will benefit from giving consumers a reason to pull out their mobile devices and shop online while waiting in line,” the report said.

[Updated, 12:30 p.m., Nov. 8: CommerceHub clarified that it questioned 1,082 people for its survey and that 300 people responded to the showrooming inquiry and said they use the tactic.]


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