Australians are canny shoppers with new research showing that 31% of us admit to deliberately checking out a product or trying on a garment in store only to look for it online for a lower price; otherwise known as ‘showrooming’.

The research from shopping comparison website Finder.com.au also found that another 14% of Aussies had had the idea but were not game to try it!

Angus Kidman, editor-in-chief at Finder.com.au, says savvy shoppers are happy to go the extra mile to get the best price.

“Just 10 or 15 years ago Aussies were much more limited with where they could shop from. Unless you wanted to negotiate or walk from store to store to compare costs, prices were pretty final, and the pool of retailers was more or less confined to our shores,” says Kidman.

“Today you can be in a store, trying on a jacket and in the very same spot, you can Google it on your phone for a better price. Retailers understand some shoppers are wasting their time. In fact, Amazon is working on something it calls Physical Store Online Shopping Control – a mechanism which blocks shoppers from visiting online rivals within a store,” he added.

The survey of 2,017 respondents shows 32% prefer to buy in store and rarely shop online, while 16% think showrooming is wrong as it’s unfair to bricks and mortar stores.

Only 7% of Aussies confidently buy online without checking the product in a store beforehand. Millennials and Generation Z are the most confident in shopping online without visiting a store first.

Baby Boomers hardly shop online (51%), compared to 30% of Gen X and just 16% of Generation Z.

Is it unethical?

There is nothing wrong with shopping around to get a fair price – money is too hard to come by. But it is unethical and downright rude if you don’t compare apples with apples and if you don’t at least offer the bricks and mortar shop the opportunity to match the price – or at least come close!

And there is a real risk that the online store offering a bargain that is too good to be true is simply a fake store out to steal your credit card and delivery details – a valuable commodity on the dark web.

Or that the goods are counterfeit – fake Nikes, watches and sunglasses are the tip of the iceberg as unscrupulous manufacturers reproduce almost everything that is popular and has a brand.

To counter this, there is an increasing demand by Australian retailers to have unique versions of popular products with things like specific colours, features and bundled accessories unique to their outlets.

Finders Showrooming 101

  1. If it’s clothing, try it on. If it’s an appliance, electronics or makeup, test the products if you can.
  2. Take a few pictures of the item including product information. Details of the product are especially important as there can be many variations and you want to make sure you’re getting the same one. Try and avoid the store’s barcode or style number and look for the brand’s information.
  3. Always consider shipping fees and the inconvenience of waiting for a courier. When comparing costs you need to consider all factors, and this includes shipping. What could appear cheaper might go out the window once you add international shipping fees.
  4. Be cautious with electronics. If from overseas it may run on different voltages or need different wall plugs. So while you’re scoring a discount, you might need to buy an adapter, or worse, a transformer, which could outweigh your savings.