Browse Offline, Buy Online? : Exploring how showrooming is affected by customer experience in the clothing industry
Abstract: Background: In the last 20 years, the retail industry has experienced a drastic transformation and the rise of e-commerce has resulted in a change in the retail business models. Thus, there has been a shift from the traditional single-channel format to a multi-channel format. A critical challenge that retailers face with the multichannel format is the concept of showrooming, where consumers visit the brick-and-mortar retailer to explore the assortment and thus utilise the services offered, but finally purchases the product online. Problem: Brick-and-mortar retailers often consider showrooming as a threat regarding the act of free-riding which might lead to a loss of potential customers. However, opinions on how to conquer this undesirable behaviour vary. Previous research shares the underlying assumption that price is the critical driver for the consumers’ decision to perform showrooming. Although, there is no clear consensus on how to hinder this behaviour. Purpose: The purpose of this study is to make sense of how customers’ in-store experiences affect showrooming in the clothing and footwear industry. The findings of this study are expected to contribute to beneficial theoretical retail knowledge as it investigates the underexplored research phenomenon of showrooming in a broad customer in-store experience context. Method: To perform this research, a qualitative research design was applied and 15 semi-structured interviews with self-proclaimed showroomers were conducted. Results: The findings declare that for a positive in-store experience to occur, it must be permeated by trust. When trust is achieved, the second critical factor of in-store experience in the context of showrooming concerns the availability. If these two factors of in-store experience are successfully managed, the desire to engage in showrooming decreases. These findings are visually demonstrated in a developed framework on page 49.
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