Showrooming, Not Online Transactions, Is Real threat To Grocers

The Food Institute Report recently noted that in an extreme move to prevent showrooming of its products online, an Australian gluten-free grocery store called Celiac Supplies began charging a $5 fee for “just looking” online in February of this year.

April 10, 2013

The Food Institute Report recently noted that in an extreme move to prevent showrooming of its products online, an Australian gluten-free grocery store called Celiac Supplies began charging a $5 fee for “just looking” online in February of this year. The fee is subsequently deducted from any orders placed online at the store but makes clear retailers are threatened by the ease at which consumers can now compare prices and products online.

The prospect of showrooming food products hurting sales is certainly real for the grocery industry as 40% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping for groceries, according to Perception Research Services International. And considering 54% of U.S. adults responsible for at least half of their household’s grocery shopping have a smartphone, the potential audience for showrooming is significant.

Some 53% of consumers surveyed also noted they use their smartphones to compare prices , leading the pack of a number of uses that also include: reading customer reviews (49%), checking for sales & coupons (48%), and searching for product information (48%), notes the research firm.

To help counter the impact of showrooming, Target announced year-round online price matching earlier this year. CITI Research notes that Target monitors prices of some 30,000 items to make sure it is competitive and that most experts estimate that fewer than 5% of customers actually ask for a price match. Thus, online price matching programs may be effective at gaining customer trust and loyalty without a high price tag. And, CITI states that “the most successful retailers are developing a fundamental understanding of the difference in order to avoid a race to the bottom as some have feared with online price matching.” 

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