Maybe there’s some credence to all the talk about “showrooming” being an epidemic after all. Showrooming—the practice of physically checking a gadget out in-store, then whipping out your phone in buying it for a lower price online—has been blamed for everything from Best Buy’s fall from grace to the decline of small business, and a new survey says it’s more prevalent than ever.
TechBargains picked the brains of 1,180 respondents and found that a full 90 percent of them engaged in showrooming at least some of the time. More intriguingly, a lot of those people engaged in showrooming a lot of the time, with 77 percent of men and 67 percent of women admitting to doing so regularly.
While people are more likely to shop on tablets versus smartphones overall—79 versus 73 percent, respectively—the smartphone in particular is the tool of choice for the frontlines showrooming; everyone who admitted to the practice said that they’d done so with a smartphone. A slate’s bigger screen makes it more conducive to nitty gritty detective work, however, as TechBargains reports that more people research products and compare prices on a tablet than on a handset.
Retailer angst over showrooming hit a fever pitch last holiday season, when Amazon ran a one-day promotion offering steeper-than-normal discounts to people who used the Amazon Price Check app to comparison shop in-store. Time reports that this year, big box retailers are fighting back against the practice: Best Buy has vowed to match the price of online retailers, Target has released a shopping app of its own, and Toys R Us is putting a focus on exclusive toys that can only be found in its stores, not anywhere else online.
Amazon, however, is reportedly working to bring same-day delivery service to many of the biggest cities in the U.S., which could render retailer maneuvers at least partially moot in 2013.