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Shoppers browse in Michael Kors at West Edmonton MallJASON FRANSON/The Globe and Mail

The latest news and information for entrepreneurs from across the web universe, brought to you by the Report on Small Business team. Follow us on Twitter @GlobeSmallBiz. Download our app here.

IBM study finds increasing number of shoppers checking out stores, then buying online

Showrooming – that practice of consumers to hit bricks-and-mortar stores to check out products, then make their purchases on-line – is becoming a growing global phenomenon, a study by International Business Machines Corp. finds, according to this Reuters report.

The study of 26,000 shoppers found that more than 80 per cent made their last purchase in a real store, but just half said they would make their next buy at a bricks-and-mortar retailer, Reuters reports.

The IBM study, released at the National Retail Federation convention in New York, found that, in China, 26 per cent of shoppers said they were showroomers, along with 13 per cent in India and 7 per cent in the United States, according to Reuters.

The Reuters report also quoted Jill Puleri, global leader for IBM Business Services, as saying that nearly half of online purchases result from showrooming. It also noted that while bricks-and-mortars purchases still make up the bulk of sales, online purchases are growing at a faster pace.

The Reuters story  called the study the "latest to underscore the importance of online and mobile shopping," and warned that retailers that don't address the "small but growing" number of showroomers  risk losing customers to on-line competitors that often offer the same products at cheaper prices.

The most popular of eight categories that IBM tracked for online purchases were consumer electronics and luxury buys, such as jeweller and designer clothing, the Reuters report said.

For more reporting on the study, click here.

Incentives software firm raises $7.65-million

Whitby, Ont.-based has received $7.65-million in funding led by OMERS Ventures, the venture-capital arm of the  Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System pension fund, the firm announced. Also in on the funding were Klass Capital and Round 13 Capital.

The company offers software to help manufacturers and distributors create, measure and manage their incentives programs. It will use the money to help accelerate its technologies' development and help fund growth.


Red Tape Awareness Week

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is behind the fourth annual Red Tape Awareness Week, to be held from Jan. 21 to Jan. 25. The week, aimed at lobbying against the red-tape hurdles that small businesses face, will include report card gradings of federal and provincial governments and the Canada Revenue Agency, recognition of those trying to cut red tape, as well as real tales of red-tape woes faced by small businesses. For further details, click here.

Startup Weekend Calgary

Startup Weekend heads to Calgary on Feb. 8. Registration is now open for the 54-hour event aimed at creating the foundations of a new business. For further details, click here.

Wireless summits

A series of summits over three days will connect the wireless industry, from entrepreneurs to global industry leaders, to "accelerate ideas and market opportunities." The second annual summits, hosted by Wavefront and focused on mobile and wireless technologies, will be held from Feb. 4 through Feb. 6 in Vancouver. For more information, click here.


On the road every other week, how to run a business from afar

This week's Challenge: 'There are few companies that have the founder and CEO as the brand,' says Lorna Vanderhaeghe, who spends every other week, nine months of the year, criss-crossing the country to promote her eponymously named maker of nutritional health supplements for women.


Is startup jumping the expansion gun?

When it was under a year old, sports massage therapy clinic Massage Athletica was thinking of expanding to meet growing demand. Was it moving too quickly? That was the Challenge posed to the experts last July. Read what they advised.

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