Those merchants often viewed consumers walking aisles with mobile phones as a threat because those consumers were often checking the prices of products on Amazon, using the physical store to see in person what they would eventually buy from that online competitor.
Those day of showrooming are hardly gone — consumers still engage in the practice and probably will for a long time coming. But as Jake Engwerda, SVP Partnerships & Sales at LISNR, explained in a recent PYMNTS interview, the relationship between stores and mobile commerce has become more sophisticated and mutually beneficial.
“One of the most interesting changes is that many consumers — young millennials — had their first experiences with mobile devices,” he said, and that’s helping to drive those new mobile-store trends. “The device becomes an extension of the shopping experience.”
Almost everyone shops these days both online and in physical stores, PYMNTS research confirms. The research found that 86 percent of respondents make purchases online at least some of the time, and 97 percent visit physical stores some of the time. Additionally, most people tend to use mobile phones when shopping in person — a trend that, among other things, has led to a redefinition of the old concept of “omnichannel” retail.
The majority of respondents use either merchants’ apps or mobile web browsers to plan a trip to the store. Even so, people do not have many merchant apps installed on mobile devices. Of all respondents surveyed, 77.6 percent have five or fewer such apps on their mobile devices. The PYMNTS research found that respondents use merchant apps for an average of four reasons.
What’s different now than back in the early days of showrooming is, in large part, the better technology available on consumers’ mobile devices, and the resulting shift in consumer behavior.
“People are accepting of things like geolocation and giving access to their phones,” Engwerda said.
That doesn’t mean pure showrooming is dead (consumers always want the best prices), and it won’t disappear over the next few years. What it means is consumers are willing to do much more with their mobile devices, especially when smart and capable merchants offer good reason to do so inside physical stores.
“The use of a scanner, or your phone’s camera as a scanner, to ID deals and promotions” stands as a desirable consumer task, he said. And the spread of QR codes is also enabling a more sophisticated form of mobile commerce, one that works to tie together brick-and-mortar stores and the mobile world.
“The evolution of consumer behavior is molded by the ecosystem,” Engwerda told PYMNTS.
It comes down to owning the moment of conversion, he said — and smart merchants know that mobile is a big part of the overall shopping journey and the conversion process.
“Customers are being trained by things like getting access to coupons and to use those mobile apps,” he said. “That revolution is happening.”
That doesn’t mean all the severe challenges that face mobile commerce are gone.
The PYMNTS research found that consumers who are interested in downloading apps in the future are interested in them for the same reasons they are interested in current apps.
More specifically, 48.6 percent of respondents are interested in paying on an app in the future, compared to the 32.1 percent who do so on today’s apps.
Even so, consumers who are not interested in future apps are not interested because of data security concerns. This number is much higher than the number of those who are concerned about data security for today’s apps.
Mobile commerce continues to grow and evolve well past those early days of showrooming — and now merchants are striving to work within the mobile commerce ecosystem, or even build their own ecosystems.
But consumers always need good reasons to use those mobile retail apps, and those consumers need to feel secure doing so.