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Showrooming in the home improvement market

Whenever a research or publication concerning online buying is published, nine out of ten times there will be information on either showrooming or webrooming. However, this information is scarcely available for DIY purchases. Hence we decided to include some questions on showrooming in the European home improvement monitor. Showrooming is the process in which consumers visit a store to see a product or get advised, but the purchase is being done online. Webrooming is more or less the opposite, whereby consumers do their research online, but buy in a physical store.

I want to focus on showrooming for now, because of the obvious dangers for the big box retailers. A recent research amongst the Dutch population found that two thirds view themselves as showroomers (general purchases). However, is there a difference between general purchases and DIY products?

In short, the answer is yes. The percentage of European consumers who showroom when buying DIY products is a lot lower, at 36% (European average). For the Netherlands this is slightly higher at 38%. In countries like Germany and the UK this is lower at 14% and 28% respectively.

The perceived disadvantages of online buying of DIY products (no feeling with the product, no way to get advice) are offset by showrooming. Even though showrooming still has a negative effect on the big box retailers, the perceived disadvantages of online buying provides opportunities for the retailers.

 Consumers still visit stores and are look for advice. Providing this advice, through knowledgeable staff can increase the chances of the products being bought in the store, as apposed of online. From my own perspective, if I visit a DIY store in the Netherlands, staff is hard to find and are in most cases not well trained/knowledgeable. I feel no connection to the store and the willingness to showroom is much higher.

Furthermore, the consumers are already on their mobile in the store, which provides all sorts of opportunities. For example, product reviews can be provided both online and offline, special offers can be made or discounts pointed out.  

Finally, it goes without explaining that the retailers should embrace an omnichannel approach and be competitive online. They could also offer an app or good mobile website and try to seduce the consumers in the store to use it, to avoid being Amazoned (consumers might check Amazone and will find lower prices and in some cases a better overview of products, reviews and so on.

 For the big box retailers, this is less of a problem because they tend to have the financial power to achieve this. Smaller, local stores will have a tougher time adopting a good omnichannel approach.

These are some of the results of the Q1 2017 online buying report of the European home improvement monitor (quarterly research, 11 countries and 26,400 interviews annually).