Showrooming is when shoppers peruse or try a product in a store but then purchase it online from a competitor. In this case the local store becomes a showroom for online shoppers and retailers.
360PI defines showrooming as "the practice of examining merchandise or products in a store and then buying it online for a lower price".
Showrooming is favored by connected smartphones and mobile applications that read barcodes for comparing prices.
According to The Harris Poll of 2,249 adults surveyed online in November 2012 by Harris Interactive, 43% of U.S. adults had showroomed.
A 2013 US Federal Reserve’s study - Consumers and Mobile Financial Services 2013- had interesting results. Among smartphone owners, 42 percent say that they have used their mobile phone to comparison shop on the Internet while at a retail store, and 32 percent have used a barcode scanning application for price comparisons.
The practice affects some stores or brands more than others according to verticals. Showrooming is mainly used for high priced products, apparels and high-tech.
According to the above-mentioned study, Best Buy (24%) and Walmart (22%) are the top victims of this trend and Amazon the big winner.
Showrooming may be a big problem for some retail chains as they paid sales clercks and store walls for helping and sending customers to competitors.
According to 360PI, showrooming was a $217 billion problem for US retailers for 2013.