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Showrooming and the Small Retailer

Qualitative Consumer Research

ISBN: 978-1-78714-492-7, eISBN: 978-1-78714-491-0

ISSN: 1548-6435

Publication date: 1 August 2017



The purpose of this chapter is to examine the phenomenon of “showrooming” in which shoppers use mobile devices in retail stores to check prices and other data on products that they then may buy online.


We conducted depth interviews with 50 consumers, 13 small retailers, and 6 large retailers.


We identified four distinct behavioral groups of customers and six strategies small retailers are currently using or could use to address the potential problems showrooming can create. We also identified a new type of reference pricing.

Research limitations/implications

This research provides a guide researchers can use in further work on showrooming. The research consists of depth interviews. It is possible that other types of retailers may have developed other strategies not identified here or that a larger number of non-student participants would have identified other categories, though differences between students and non-students in our sample were not noteworthy.

Practical implications

This chapter provides a practical guide to small retailers as to how they can deal with the growing practice of showrooming, helping them to choose strategic responses based on the types of consumers they serve.


This is one of the first papers to be published in an academic journal on the value of showrooming. It provides a typology of consumers grouped by their behavior, that is, how and why they engage or don’t engage in showrooming. This can help academic researchers in future research as well as managers of small retail businesses. We also identified a new, third type of reference pricing.



Brown, T.A., Friedman, D.C. and Taran, Z. (2017), "Showrooming and the Small Retailer", Qualitative Consumer Research (Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 79-94.



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