Blessing in disguise


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Blessing in disguise. Does mobile offer the key to combatting showrooming?

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Blessing in disguise

  1. 1. Sustaining brand relevance with the connected consumerOpinion LeaderConnected worldBlessing in disguiseIn FocusShare this
  2. 2. In Focus2Share thisMobile has been cast as the villain inretailers’ showrooming nightmares– but the latest Mobile Life studysuggests it could yet be one solutionto their problemsBlessing in disguise
  3. 3. In Focus3Share thisGetting the best possible deal is a fundamental partof shopping. Human beings have bartered, browsedand vowed to “come back later” for as long as therehave been a choice of shops to visit. However, theInternet has shifted the balance of power decisively intheir favour. And in recent years, it has even started toexplode the long-standing principle that people cometo shops in order to buy things.Showrooming, the tactic of visiting a store to examinea product with the intention of buying it elsewherelater, is particularly cruel on retailers. It’s not enoughthat the likes of Amazon and eBay should undercuttheir prices; now, it seems, consumers are using theretailers’ own expensively maintained stores to helpthem do it. Best Buy, the world’s largest consumerelectronics retailer, has estimated that 40 percentof visitors to its stores have no intention of buyinganything – at least, not from Best Buy.At times, the response has seemed desperate.A specialist gluten-free grocery store in Brisbane,Australia, made headlines when it started chargingcustomers $5 to visit the store, only reimbursing themoney when they actually completed a purchase.Best Buy’s own response was more measured – butstill represented a fundamental shift in its businessmodel, inviting brands to set up their own boutiqueswithin its stores and sell to customers directly,assuring them that they are getting the best price.Retailers’ nightmare scenario?Mobile technology tends to be viewed as the finalstraw in the showrooming saga, making it easier thanever for shoppers to seek out better prices elsewhereand undermining the authority of sales assistants ontheir own turf. Amazon certainly sees the opportunity,having launched its price check app to scan pricesin local stores and compare them to Amazon’s bestoffer, which can of course be ordered with a singleclick. Just as significantly, perhaps, mobile threatensto carry the showrooming phenomenon to newmarkets that were previously protected by a lack ofmainstream Internet access, presenting global retailerswith an ever more pressing need to come to termswith the challenge.Blessing in disguise
  4. 4. In Focus4Share thisAll those who showroom Those who use their mobile when showrooming54332171446033543036282919107108SSA IndiaGlobal DevelopedAsiaNorthAmericaEurope China Lat Am EmergingAsiaMENA SSA9686%61% 55% 56% 77% 64% 75% 87% 67%64%The 2013 edition of TNS’s Mobile Life study confirmsthat over a fifth (21%) of phone owners worldwidehave used their handset for showrooming. However,far from leading the showrooming stampede, mobiletechnology in many respects offers retailers thechance to reassert influence over it. Analysis of themobile services of most interest to shoppers suggeststhat encouraging mobile use in-store could prove tobe retailers’ salvation.21%of phone owners worldwide have used theirhandset for showrooming.Blessing in disguise% of mobile usage among showroomersThose who use their mobile when showroomingAll those who showroom
  5. 5. In Focus5Share thisThe mobile showrooming disconnectThe nature of showrooming varies significantly frommarket to market and generation to generation. Andcontrary to many retailers’ expectations the influenceof mobile on this behaviour is felt least strongly inthose markets where showrooming itself is mostestablished – and most feared.Whilst 33 percent of mobile owners showroom, onlyjust under two-thirds of these have used a mobilewhen doing so – and this gap between generalshowrooming habits and mobile showroomingbehaviour is widest in developed markets. InDeveloped Asia, only 61 percent of showroomershave engaged in mobile showrooming; whilst inNorth America and Europe only around half ofshowroomers have.In many ways, mobile’s limited share ofshowrooming in developed markets is a legacy oflong-established online PC access, and the shoppinghabits that this has embedded. In markets whereInternet access was a rarity until the arrival of web-enabled handsets, our data shows evidence thatmobile is the trigger for showrooming behaviour toemerge: 87 percent in Middle East and North Africa,86 percent in India, 77 percent in China,75 percent in Emerging Asia, and 67 percent inSub-Saharan Africa.When frequency of different types of showroomingbehaviour is taken into account, in-store shopperanalysis suggests that mobile’s contribution toshowrooming may be lower still. Few shopperspause in their journeys around the aisles to lookup prices or reviews using their handsets – findingsthat suggest that, while many are familiar with thepotential for using a mobile to aid showrooming,most do not often choose to do so, particularlyin low involvement categories, e.g. when groceryshopping.Blessing in disguise33%of mobile owners showroom2/3of these have used a mobile when doing so
  6. 6. In Focus6Share thisThe reason can be found in the trade-off of time,money and angst explored in previous Mobile Lifestudies. For a showroomer, using a mobile in-storepotentially adds to the time and angst involved – asmany feel more exposed and awkward standingin front of a product looking up prices than theywould if they simply examined the product and left.The Mobile Life figures show a generational divideemerging: younger phone owners are more inclinedto use their mobiles as showrooming devices ofchoice, whereas over-50s seem more comfortablecomparing prices and buying products online froma PC, either before or after their trip to a store.Blessing in disguiseRemove friction:Save shoppers timeTailored promotions:Save shoppers moneyon what matters to themEnhance the experience:Save shoppers angst
  7. 7. In Focus7Share thisActivities in the mobile path to purchase - GlobalShare photo orvideo of productwith friendsPurchase productonline via mobile2416 1613 1315 151116 169 9 815Mobile purchaseAt home In storeResearch at homeCompare pricesin storeRead reviewsin storeCheck social mediabuzz about productScan barcode formore product infoScan QR code formore product infoRedeem amobile couponReceive a dealby interactingwith an adReceive updatesfrom places ofinterest near meTake notes ofproduct detailsin storeAccess product infoby touching phoneagainst a sensorAccess a storedlist of productspreviouslyScan barcode topay for productScan QR code topay for productPay for product bytouching phoneagainst a sensor211514Save shoppers money on what matters to them Save shoppers angstSave shoppers time
  8. 8. In Focus8Share thisshowroom may actually complete purchases in thestore they are standing in, if this helps to save themtime, money and angst. A mobile in the hands of apotential showroomer can represent an enhancedopportunity for a retailer, if that retailer can providethe showroomer with the reassurances they demand– and convince them that it is worth saving time bycompleting a purchase there and then.The reassurance that showroomers seekThe information that mobiles provide toshowroomers fall into two broad categories:reassurance on price and reassurance on suitability.And in each case, a retailer has the potential to addits voice to the mobile sources of information that ashowroomer uses.For price information, potential showroomers canturn to other retailers directly, or to third-partycomparison services; for reassurance on suitability,the mobile forms a channel for seeking the opinionsof family and friends. In each case, the contributionof the phone could take the form of accessingLess premeditation means more opportunityWhere shoppers are content to stick to PC-basedshowrooming, retailers are themselves stuck – sincePC-based showrooming is inherently inflexible. APC showroomer is likely to have decided in advancethat their trip to the store is for research purposesonly (since they have either already established thata better price is likely to be found elsewhere, or theyare committed to comparing prices online at a laterpoint). A mobile showroomer is not so bound, sincetheir research can be conducted on the spot andtheir decision-making influenced. Where mobilestake control of showrooming they make it moreaccessible, more spontaneous and less premeditated.Mobile showroomers are open to revising theirpurchase decisions on the spot – and this can workeither against the store in question or in its favour.Only 8 percent of all showroomers have actuallypurchased the product they are researching usingtheir phone (one of the nightmare scenariosenvisioned by retailers proving far less commonthan many suppose). And many who set out toBlessing in disguiseinformation online, soliciting views via social media,using advanced Smartphone shopping apps – orsimply making a call.Showroomers in emerging markets make thebroadest use of their mobiles to guide final purchasedecisions, often through tasks that do not requirean Internet connection but could be completed viaa text-based service or phone call. Showroomers inIndia and Emerging Asian countries are significantlymore likely to use a mobile to ask friends and familywhat they would recommend; those in Sub-SaharanAfrica are amongst the most likely to use their phoneto take pictures of products for later reference; andthose in Sub-Saharan Africa, India and EmergingAsia are among the most likely to check theavailability or range of products at another retailer –or ask that other retailer for advice.
  9. 9. In Focus9Share thisIncidence of showrooming behaviourBlessing in disguiseG NA E DA I C EA LA M STo compare prices with another retailer 31 32 25 34 49 34 33 23 40 36To ask my friends or family what they wouldrecommend buying25 16 24 20 42 30 49 26 43 19To take a photo of the product or note downproduct details to help me remember it for later23 22 22 26 20 21 17 24 45 30To look up product information or comparisons 15 18 11 20 17 16 6 13 29 20To check product availability at another retailer 14 18 10 12 26 15 12 15 34 20To check if it was easier/more convenient to orderthe product online14 15 12 18 5 16 8 12 31 10To check the range of products at another retailer 13 14 11 14 19 13 19 13 42 21To receive advice or information from another retailer 10 8 7 8 16 13 12 14 34 17To purchase the product via an app or website whileI was still in the store8 7 4 7 17 11 5 9 20 10Use of mobile in showroomingIn contrast, shoppers in developed markets aregenerally more likely to check options for buyingproducts online. The exception appears to be Europe,where showroomers use every potential mobilefunction less than the global average – and appear farmore deeply attached to showrooming using a PC.GlobalNorth AmericaEuropeDeveloped AsiaIndiaChinaEmerging AsiaLat AmMENASSA336054715361029109
  10. 10. In Focus10Share thisDeveloping an in-store mobile strategyRather than undermining the traditional path topurchase, an enhanced role for mobile in-storepromises to interrupt the showrooming journey,making all relevant information available in real-time – and pushing shoppers towards a purchasedecision. In this sense, the most effective strategyfor retailers lies in working with the way that theirtarget audience uses their phones – and aiming toprovide the types of reassurance that they turn to itto provide.When mobile owners upgrade to Smartphones,their appetite for innovative shopping servicesdoubles – and significantly, the services theyare most interested in are those that involvenew opportunities for retailers to engage with them,and prompt them towards purchases. This suggestsimmediate strategies that retailers can adopt tomaximise engagement and capture and convertpotential showroomers in addition to othermobile researchers.Blessing in disguiseReceiving mobile coupons based on interests/past purchasesApp to check product availability at store outletsService or app to help navigate a storeReceiving a mobile coupon for watching a mobile adReceiving a mobile coupon for answering a surveyApp or site for shopping tips/recommendationsApp suggesting meal recipes while grocery shoppingAd that shows up on mobile when you walk past a product in storeApp or site to ask questions to brand/store reps while shopping in storeApp to keep track of contents of refrigeratorInteractive screen in store where you can select coupons / offers and beam them to your phoneMobile coupon that shows up when you pass that product in a storeInterest in innovative mobile shopping services – Global11111010109987777222121201919191715131213Opportunities to engage with shoppersSmartphone ownerNon-Smartphone owner
  11. 11. In Focus11Share this1/5of Smartphone owners are interested in receivingmobile couponsDemonstrating competitivenessCompetitive pricing is an essential starting point formeeting the showrooming challenge – but mobilesolutions have a key role to play in emphasisingcompetitiveness and delivering offers and discountsat the moments when they will deliver the greatestreturns. More than a fifth of Smartphone ownersare interested in receiving mobile coupons basedon their interest or past purchases, or in exchangefor watching a brand’s mobile ad, and 19 percentshow interest in location-based services that delivercoupons when they pass a relevant product in-store. Best Buy has introduced both a price-matchguarantee and a partnership with the barcode-scanning app RedLaser, which is designed to pushthe best possible prices at those busy comparingthem.Blessing in disguise
  12. 12. In Focus12Share thisSpeeding the path to purchaseEnabling the consumer’s journey towards purchasecan help to ensure that this purchase takes placewithin the store environment. The process ofsmoothing the journey can be as straightforward ashelping to improve in-store navigation (something21 percent of Smartphone owners want from theirphone). For the most part, however, it will involvetailoring solutions to fit the demands of shoppers indifferent categories.Location-based alerts and mobile coupons areparticularly significant drivers of behaviour for foodand beverage shoppers, whereas price comparisonsand product reviews are less important to thatcategory – but particularly significant to those buyingconsumer electronics. Peer opinion (often soughtby sharing photos with friends or checking viewson social media sites) assumes greater importancefor those buying clothing and shoes. Working toencourage and own the sharing of pictures andvideo can help fashion retailers to provide thereassurance sought whilst still emphasising theadvantages of buying in-store. C&A Brazil hasadopted an innovative solution to incorporatingsocial media within the in-store environment bydisplaying the number of likes that each clothingitem currently has via digital displays on clotheshangers.Enhancing the in-store experienceMobile enables retailers to incorporate digital sourcesof information on their own terms – but equallysignificant is the demand from shoppers for solutionsthat enhance rather than replace the traditionalretail experience. The Mobile Life study emphasisesthe continuing importance of in-store assistants.Shoppers in all markets retain a strong level of trustfor the sales people they deal with face-to-face –and this gives employees the key role in stressing theadvantages of buying in-store. Amongst Smartphoneowners, 13 percent want apps that will help themto ask relevant questions of a store’s sales assistants.Mobile solutions must never become a substitute forexcellent customer service; shoppers expect them toimprove it.Blessing in disguise21%of Smartphone users want instorenavigation improved13%of Smartphone users want apps to help them toask relevant questions of a store’s sales assistants.
  13. 13. In Focus13Share thisIgnore the challenge at your perilAcross all markets, advancing mobile technologieswill soon bring the showrooming situation to a head– and demand that retailers address the challenge.However, mobile technology also represents a timelyopportunity when it comes to reasserting influencewithin the in-store environment. In promptingpotential showroomers to come to a final decisionwithout leaving the store they are in, mobile is themost powerful channel at retailers’ disposal formaintaining control of the path to purchase. It is vitalfor their future success that they make good use of it.As a starting point, the following seven actionsrepresent a powerful framework for optimising themobile experience of shoppers and leveraging this toaddress the showrooming threat:Ensure that digital assets are optimised to workacross platforms, encouraging mobile engagementin-store whilst ensuring a strong share of mobilebrowsing in the homeCombat showrooming by delivering strong deals in store and leveraging the USPs of a physical store: ‘Pick up product today’, ‘Deal onlyavailable in store’; make WiFi available tocustomers and use this as an opportunity to deliver dealsUse the mobile to bring social into store, drive greater customer engagement and enable peer- to-peer reassurance on purchase decisions; stock items with the strongest online ratings to drive conversionUse the physical retail store as a research hub – giveconsumers as much information as possible, buildtrust and affinity though this “partnership”, and thenclose the sale or convert to your online platformIf you can develop efficient mobile payments to save time, money and angst at the till, then do soFor emerging markets, make mobile the primary platform for delivery of online services. Ensure online research and purchasing channels are mobile-friendly and cater to a wide range of mobile devicesConsumers generally do not see the mobile as a replacement for in-store sales assistants – look for opportunities for the two to work togetherBlessing in disguise1 47632 5
  14. 14. In Focus14Share thisAbout the AuthorsRyan Versfeld is based in Cape Town and is the AME Connect Development Manager at TNS. In the four years thatRyan has been with TNS he has delivered insights to a range of international clients and holds particular expertise inworking with TNS’s ConversionModel to define growth opportunities for his clients. Ryan, collaborates with Emily todeliver Mobile Life and advises a range of clients across the world on mobile and digital, with a particular focus on theAME region.Emily Gong is a Connect Development Manager based in Singapore who works with TNS digital and technologyspecialists across the globe to share ideas, develop new research solutions and manage TNS’s core digital andtechnology products.With a background in media studies, Emily helps clients explore the ways in which technology and new media areimpacting people’s habits and attitudes, and how they can engage and influence consumers at key moments of truth.Sam Curtis has worked for TNS for six years and is currently a Global Director in the Retail & Shopper practice.Sam has worked on global projects throughout his career, especially in the areas of mobile, digital and brandpositioning, which has involved extensive experience researching consumers in developing economies.Zoë Lawrence is TNS’s Global Director of Brand and Corporate Communications. Throughout her career Zoë haspartnered with media, technology and telecoms companies to develop campaigns that achieve impact with theirtarget audience.You may alsobe interested inShowrooming infographic >More than a marketing channel - How CMOsregard mobile >Blessing in disguise
  15. 15. In Focus15Share thisAbout Mobile LifeMobile Life is an annual investigation into the behaviours, motivations and priorities of the world’s mobile phoneusers. Now in its eighth year, Mobile Life is the most comprehensive view of how the world’s consumers are usingtheir phones today and the opportunities this presents for brands. on 38,000 conversations in 43 countries, Mobile Life is designed to capture the entire population of mobileusers in each market and includes:Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana,Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway,Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain,Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA, Vietnam.
  16. 16. In Focus16Share thisAbout In FocusIn Focus is part of a regular series of articles that takes an in-depth look at a particular subject, region ordemographic in more detail. All articles are written by TNS consultants and based on their expertise gatheredthrough working on client assignments in over 80 markets globally, with additional insights gained through TNSproprietary studies such as Digital Life and Mobile Life.About TNSTNS advises clients on specific growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching andstakeholder management, based on long-established expertise and market-leading solutions. With a presencein over 80 countries, TNS has more conversations with the world’s consumers than anyone else and understandsindividual human behaviours and attitudes across every cultural, economic and political region of the world.TNS is part of Kantar, one of the world’s largest insight, information and consultancy groups.Please visit for more information.Get in touchIf you would like to talk to us about anything you have read in this report, please get in touch or via Twitter @tns_global