Mobile “webrooming” overcomes “showrooming” by up to 14% in the US in 2014, new global GfK’s study FutureBuy reveals

The number of shoppers who make purchases in-store after researching an item using a smartphone on the ground has surged to 41%, while the number of «showroomers» who research a product in one physical store and buy from another online retailer has decreased from 37% to 28%.

The symbiose of both online and in-store shopping habits of an average US consumer has tilted slightly in favour of traditional brick-and-mortar experience, GfK’s latest global consumer study on shopping FutureBuy finds.

The trend of showrooming that was ubiquitous in 2013, is now gradually declining in favour of a new shopper habit called «web rooming,» when a person comes into a physical store to see and touch a desired product, then researches it thoroughly online using a smartphone and buys online from the same retailer. The respondents among all age groups prefer a new habit of «webrooming» to «showrooming» by 12% to 14% on either mobile or tablet devices, except generation Z (16-24 years old) who vice versa prefer showrooming (39%) to webrooming (35%).

Table 1. Showrooming vs. Webrooming using a smartphone
(% reporting behaviour in past six months)

Generation Z (18-24) Generation Y (25-34) Generation X (35-49) Boomers (50-68)
Showrooming 39% 32% 29% 18%
Webrooming 34% 46% 43% 30%


Use of smartphones and tablets for online shopping is most active among generation Z and Y (25-34 years old) — 21% and 25% of them use smartphones to do shopping, and 9% and 10% use a tablet, respectively. At the same time, the decrease of using desktop or laptop computers for shopping in the US in 2014 has been considerable: from 78% to 63%.

Table 2. Use of smartphones and tablets for online shopping
(in past six months, % point versus 2013)

Generation Z (18-24) Generation Y (25-34) Generation X (35-49) Boomers (50-68)
Smartphones 21% (+8*) 25% (+11) 15% (+7) 7% (+4)
Tablets 9% (+2) 10% (NC) 11% (+5) 10% (+8)

Overall, about 44% of respondents say they combine online and in-person shopping activities, and not only for expensive purchases, but for items in lower-priced categories, such as beauty and personal care (39%), lawn and garden (29%), food and beverage (22%).

When asked what motivated them to drop in at a store before or instead of purchasing online, people responded, as follows:

  • to see and feel before buying 57%
  • to get products sooner (53%)
  • for hassle-free returns (35%)

When asked about key factors of differentiation in favour of online retailers, the respondents named attributes such as «save money» (61% online vs 28% offline), “easier” (53% versus 24%), and “better selection” (46% versus 16%).

Commenting on the value of this study for brands and retailers, Joe Beier, Executive Vice President of GfK’s Shopper and Retail Strategy team in North America said:

“We are seeing double-digit point changes in metrics designed to measure relatively foundational behaviors, such as omni-channel and devices used to shop. This volatility, combined with significant variability in shopper behavior by category and generation, makes it even more imperative that manufacturers and marketers build out an up-to-date and nuanced shopper insights platform, from which highly engaging and relevant programming can be developed.”

The study spans 17 countries and 15 product categories including FMCG, domestic appliances, home improvement, mobile phones, and a variety of shopper topics.

The full FutureBuy 2014 report with tables and figures is available here.