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Author's profile photo Brent Cohler

Your “showrooming” ways are disrupting the retail industry

Hello. My name is Brent, and I am a recovering TV laggard. Although I’ve worked in the technology world for almost 15 years, I just bought my first HDTV. At least I am getting better. It took me 15 years to upgrade the first time around, but this time, I only kept my clunker for 10 years. Today, as I sat here watching the NFC Championship Game on my beautiful, new LED TV, I realized that I deprived myself way too long. It’s definitely fair to say that I treat this as a considered purchase – I do a ton of research and I shop around. Looking back, it’s incredibly interesting to see how my research process has evolved over time, and how technology has made the decision making easier, even for someone like me.  

  • 1987 – Drove (actually, had my parents drive me)  to the library to read Consumer Reports, then drove to several stores to look at the models and compare prices
  • 2002 – Researched on and, then drove to several stores to look at the models and compare prices
  • 2012 – Drove to one store to look at models, and while in that store, compared several reviews and prices straight from the Amazon mobile app

This last time around, thanks to my iPhone and Amazon, the research process was extremely efficient. With such valuable information instantaneously available at our fingertips, wherever we are, it’s no surprise that this approach has become the norm for consumers. In fact, depending on the data source, mobile devices now play a part in approximately 60-80% of all purchases. It’s led to the term “showrooming,” defined by the Wall Street Journal as, “when shoppers come into a store to see a product in person, only to buy it from a rival online, frequently at a lower price.”

It usually involves the shopper using her smartphone to do the research while still in the store, and it’s taken the retail industry by storm. Some retailers are trying to match the lower prices, but this is a risky proposition as the online-only players have significantly lower cost structures than those with a brick and mortar presence. Want to learn more about the showrooming phenomenon? Curious how innovative retailers can combat this trend, boosting their sales and increasing customer loyalty? Click on our latest infographic below, “The Changing Retail Experience,” and see how SAP unites big data, analytics and mobile to deliver a premium experience for the modern consumer.

Follow me on twitter @BrentCohler


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