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Stats Prove Big Impact From Showrooming A Myth

Showrooming does not hurt retailers as much as some say

October 18, 2012 By Jeff O’Heir
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Statistics prove that showrooming has not drastically hurt the sale of consumer electronics at brick-and-mortar retailers.

“We have established that showrooming (as a factor) that’s really driving down the channel is a myth,” Steve Koenig, director of industry analysis for the Consumer Electronics Association, said during Retail Changes Holiday Edition: Debunking Showrooming and What to Expect for the Upcoming Holiday Season, a presentation that was part of the CEA Research Summit at the group’s Industry Forum in San Francisco.

CEA defines showrooming like this: A consumer walks into a retailer looking for a product, leaves without buying it, and ends up buying that product at a different e-tailer or brick-and-mortar retailer. It’s true, the analysts pointed out, that more consumers are using their smartphones while they’re shopping at a retailer, but they are not using them in great numbers to actually compare prices and buy the product from a different company.

To come up with their conclusion, analysts surveyed 47,000 people who shopped for a TV between Q2 of 2011 and Q2 of 2012 (the results were essentially the same for any CE product they bought). About 40 percent of them said they physically walked into a Best Buy store. About 5.9% of them said they left the store without buying and ended up purchasing the product elsewhere, with 2.3% buying from Amazon and 3.6% buying at another retailer or e-tailer.

The results were similar for consumers who physically shopped for a TV at a Wal-Mart: 6.2% of the consumers ended up buying the TV elsewhere, with 2.1% buying it from Amazon and 4.1% buying from another retailer or e-tailer. The percentage of consumers who bought from a company other than their original Best Buy or Wal-Mart destinations peaked at about 6.5% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and dropped almost two points in the second quarter of 2012.

The numbers didn’t change much when consumers were asked about overall CE products they shopped for during the same period: 7.8% of Best Buy customers left empty-handed and bought elsewhere, while 5.4% of Wal-Mart customers did the same.

That’s not to say that consumers aren’t showrooming, it’s just that the impact of the practice has not hurt brick-and-mortar retailers as much as some have claimed. “People are also going to shop around,” said Eric Voyer, vice president of sales and marketing at TraqLine-The Stevenson Company, who present the survey along with Koenig.
 
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