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So Much For Showrooming — New Study Suggests The Opposite

It wasn’t long ago when pundits were predicting the end of brick-and-mortar retail, which was to be pushed off a cliff by showrooming.

Well, turns out that rather than visit a store and buy online, a new generation of shoppers are doing just the opposite.

According to a study by market research firm GfK, nearly half (46 percent) of Gen Z shoppers in the U.S. have engaged in “webrooming” — that is, researching an item on a mobile device and then purchasing it in a physical store. And the number of these 18- to 26-year-olds who engage in the practice is growing, up 5 percentage points from 2015, and beating older generations by 12 to 27 points.

That’s not to say they haven’t indulged in showrooming either; about one third (32 percent) of the Z club report having researched a product in a brick-and-mortar store and then buying it online via a mobile device — suggesting that this up-and-coming customer base is well versed in the ways of omni-channel shopping.

Nonetheless, webrooming, regardless of age, is much more commonplace than showrooming, with about one third (34 percent) of all U.S. shoppers fessing up to the former while 21 percent have partaken in the latter.

Why is that, you may ask? GfK’s report shows that the top reason for avoiding online shopping remains the cost of delivery, cited by 50 percent of all shoppers and 51 percent of Gen Z.

“These findings really illustrate that generation is a major factor in determining how someone prefers to shop,” said Joe Beier, executive VP of GfK’s Shopper and Retail Strategy team. “They also offer a stark reminder of the importance of tightly defining the target audiences for any activation initiatives. The days of ‘one size fits all’ are clearly over.”