Despite the popular notion that mobile commerce apps are taking away sales from physical stores and sending them over to online retailers, a recent poll by Wave Collapse suggests otherwise. Instead, the survey says, mobile commerce app users simply shop more, in general, than non-app users--it makes very little difference to them whether they shop online or offline.
“In-store app users shop,” said Wave Collapse president Joy Liuzzo. “They are significantly more likely to have made a purchase at one of the channels, from physical stores to mobile and tablet apps, in the last week than people who don’t use apps in store.”
In fact, Liuzzo noted, in her company’s survey of more than a thousand smartphone users, they found that 93% of in-store app users had made a purchase at a brick-and-mortar store in the past week, while only 84% of non-users of consumer apps did the same.
The survey also found that even if people do search for better deals using their apps while they are at a physical store, this does not necessarily translate to sales going to online retailers. The app users are searching for better deals, period. It doesn't matter to them whether the better deals are found online or offline. They are just as likely to move to another physical store as they are to go online, if that’s where the better deal lies.
This information can help alleviate fears of showrooming, where people go to physical stores to check out a product, then go to an online store to buy it. As Liuzzo said, people had always been doing this sort of price comparison before. It’s just that, before consumer apps were available in smartphones, they did their research at home, so the retailers were not able to observe it. With mobile commerce apps on the rise, the same research is now being done in the store.
“But people are just as likely to look for their local price comparisons as they are for online price comparisons,” Liuzzo said. “They are not just looking for the best online price.”
In fact, 54% of the in-store app users said that when the go online to look for better prices, they are looking for better deals in other local physical stores.
The tendency towards browsing rather than shopping also varies among different store types. The Wave Collapse study found that the browsing tendency is strongest in department stores, malls, and electronics shops. On the other hand, when people go to a drug store, hardware store, convenience store, grocery stores, and discount shops, they generally make a purchase before they go out.
Yash Talreja, Independent Consultant