Webrooming is Driving Canadian Customers Back to Stores

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GfK’s FutureBuy® study reveals Canadian shoppers making their final purchasing decision in-store, armed with information gathered online.

By Chris Thorne

This year, while the industry cast a spotlight on showrooming as a major threat to the retail store, it seems a different story has been unfolding on the actual shop floor. 

Results from our FutureBuy® study reveal Canadians are embracing webrooming — the practice of researching products online and completing the purchase in store. Four in ten (40%) Canadian smartphone users reported doing so in the past six months, compared to showrooming behaviour, which only registered at 15%. 

This is the first year we have included Canada in FutureBuy®, one of the largest global studies on shopping attitudes and behaviour, spanning 17 countries and 15 categories. The Canadian results shed light on the evolving consumer behaviour, and come at a time when the local retail industry is forced to re-evaluate its position with increased competition from international players. 

No doubt, the shopping experience has been made even more complex with the availability of information online. Our study has revealed shopping influences have expanded beyond past experience with a brand or retailer (54%) and word-of-mouth from family and friends (30%), to include influencers or what we call “leading edge consumers” (10%). 

Further enabling the webrooming trend is the increased adoption of mobile technology. Consumers now have the power at their fingertips to access information about almost any product, research purchases on the go, and receive the instant gratification of walking out of a store with a purchase. In fact, half the respondents cited being able to get the products sooner as a top reason for making their final purchase in store, after doing their pre-shopping research online. 

The webrooming trend shows shopping will continue to involve a tactile interaction with merchandise in store. Understanding how consumers use the Internet to make those purchasing decisions is critical. Knowing what kind of information your potential customers are searching for on multiple devices, finding the right influencers who can advocate your product, and harnessing the convenience offered by mobile technology, are all important insights for retailers to remain relevant and competitive in the future.

Chris Thorne is Vice President of GfK Canada. (Chris.Thorne@gfk.com)

About GfK: GfK is the trusted source of relevant market and consumer information that enables its clients to make smarter decisions. More than 13,000 market research experts combine their passion with GfK’s long-standing data science experience. This allows GfK to deliver vital global insights matched with local market intelligence from more than 100 countries. By using innovative technologies and data sciences, GfK turns big data into smart data, enabling its clients to improve their competitive edge and enrich consumers’ experiences and choices.



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