Another tortured and misunderstood marketing meme we’ve been tracking is that of “showrooming,” which took on momentum in 2012 due to the supposed proliferation of mobile shopping. We shall paraphrase the definition of showrooming as:
“Brick-and-mortar stores are getting wiped out because consumers are walking in to shops, kicking the tires on the displayed merchandise, then whipping out their smartphones to order the same product for less from some online merchant such as Amazon.”
In typical marketing-meme fashion, writing and reading about it means it must be true. (Google the term “showrooming,” and you’ll get over a half-million results.)
We even got one of those “surveys of STATED behavior” at the end of 2012, with a Harris Interactive poll finding that 40% of U.S. shoppers say they already “do” showrooming.
We’d bet less than 40% of U.S. shoppers have any idea what the f&ck showrooming is. And we don’t think showrooming is a retail crisis.
Exhibit A – Best Buy Stores
If any retailer should have had a terrible 2012 holiday season, even with no showrooming, it should have been Best Buy, who we discussed here last Christmas. Now with showrooming taking hold, Best Buy should have been crushed, no?
Best Buy reported last week that U.S. same-store sales held flat over the 2012 holidays, and we quote, “helped by sales of tablets and mobile phones” – the exact type of products one would think would have been showroomed to death.
“Flat” was a major improvement for Best Buy, by the way, given its decline in holiday sales last year. Quite honestly, it was a miracle.
Exhibit B – Best Buy ONLINE
Best Buy also reported a 10% increase in U.S. online sales. “See,” you say, “Best Buy is even showrooming ITSELF!”
Except that in the 2011 holiday season, Best Buy’s online sales grew a much, much higher 26%. Slower online sales results this year blow the showrooming thesis out the store window.
Best Buy isn’t struggling because of showrooming. Circuit City, which fell in 2008, didn’t die because of showrooming. There is a glut of electronics…at ever-falling price points…with nearly annual upgrade cycles…driving retailers into a highly transactional business.