Although there has been a steady growth in multichannel retailing, few studies examine how different channels of information search affect customers’ purchase behavior. As the retailing industry evolves toward multichannel or omnichannel retailing, customers may use one channel to search for information and purchase in another channel. For example, customers can get product information in a brick-and-mortar retail store and then purchase a product online, referred to as “showrooming.” Alternatively, customers may go online to search product information but then go to a brick-and-mortar retail store to complete their purchase, referred to as “webrooming.” Besides, customers can evaluate product attributes by touch and feel the product in the store and they can simultaneously get additional information using an online search at the brick-and-mortar retail store, and then make a purchase decision in the brick-and-mortar retail store or in the online channel.
In this study, we compare the effect of offline information sources (e.g., advertising/direct marketing, conversation with friend or family) and online information sources (e.g., online advertising, email marketing) on customers’ purchase behavior in both online and offline channels. In addition, we also examine the influence of in-store online information search on in-store and online purchase behavior. We test our conjectures by using data from more than 700 respondents of the 2014 National Technology Readiness Survey (NTRS), who have made personal purchase for a various types of products where the total amount of the transaction was at least $50 in the past 3 months.
We find that offline information source is positively and strongly associated with the likelihood of purchasing in a brick-and-mortar retail store, but we see a significant negative association between use of an online information source and probability of purchase in a brick-and-mortar retail store. These results elucidate the importance of channel consistency between information search and purchase. Interestingly, we find counterintuitive evidence of showrooming and webrooming behavior: while in-store online search has significant and positive correlation with in-store purchase behavior, in-store online search decreases the probability of purchasing online. These results provide new insights for customer behavior in multi-channel settings and provide implications for designing marketing interventions.