It’s no secret that consumers are shopping differently than they did ten years ago. One of the biggest impacts on shopping behavior has been the rise of large-scale e-tailers like Amazon and the proliferation of the smartphone.
With increasing frequency, shoppers are using their mobile phones to aid in the shopping process. In a recent study by Pew Research, 74% of smartphone users say that, while shopping, they use their phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location. This is up from 55% from May 2011.
Also on the rise, and dubbed “showrooming,” is the tendency for shoppers to visit brick and mortar stores to touch and feel product, try on clothes, compare speeds and feeds of multiple brands and then, while still standing in the shopping aisle, go online, search for a lower price and make their purchase from their mobile phone. In the same study mentioned earlier from Pew, 52% of American shoppers report using their smartphone to perform research while standing in the aisle of a store and 19% report having completed a purchase online while shopping in store.
Applications like Red Laser and Price Check by Amazon make it easy for consumers to compare and find items at the bar code level to ensure they are buying exactly what they saw in store. When Amazon launched Price Check last holiday season, it promoted the app by granting users a $5 discount off any product if they used the app in-store. This move touched off a furor of complaints as physical retailers lashed out at what they correctly perceived as an attempt to take advantage of their stores while paying customers to not shop there. Target attempted to retaliate by requiring brands to issue products with unique skews. While some did accommodate Target’s request, this short-term solution overlooks the fundamental change in consumer behavior and the inherent strengths of brick and mortar shopping.