Retailers have noticed something interesting recently: The once-feared customer practice of “showrooming” – researchingproducts in-store and then leaving to purchase online – is being overtaken by a new kind of shopper behavior, called “webrooming.” Prospective buyers are now more likely to do their research online and ditch the shipping time by going to a store to make the purchase.
This is excellent news for retailers who worried about a mass exodus of in-person customers. And although webrooming presents some distinct challenges, it also offers valuable opportunities for creative retailers, both large and small.
Shopping are surfers
Recent surveys indicate that just over half of shoppers are showroomers, whereas 60% are webroomers. Not surprisingly, the products you sell affect those statistics. These items are most often researched online, but purchased in-store:
- Electronic equipment
- Mobile phones
- Computer hardware and software
- Videos, games, DVDs,
- Cars, motorcycles and accessories
These items are least likely to be researched online prior to an in-store purchase:
- Jewelry and watches
- Sports and outdoor merchandise
- Health and beauty items
Embrace webrooming to set your store apart from competitors and strengthen customer loyalty.
It’s a multi-channel world now, so it only makes sense that retailers are using multi-channel merchandising to take maximum advantage of webrooming.
- Some stores allow customers to buy online but pick up purchases in a store near them. You can encourage this by creating downloadable coupons that customers can use in-store, either as a stand-alone incentive or as a thank-you to online buyers. Or you can hand out extra rewards points for in-store purchase, pick-up or returns.
- Some retailers have created exclusive mobile applications that onsite shoppers can use to capture special offers and rewards. Take it a step further and exchange the app for your customer’s email address. That way you can stay connected with future news and offers.
- Some give customers an “order in store” option – shoppers can place an online order while in the retail store. You can facilitate this with a kiosk linked to your website. Interactive kiosks are also excellent tools to show product demonstrations, give shoppers self-help access to additional product information, and even encourage them to read online reviews.
- Some stores are offering home delivery for in-store purchases, so customers don’t have to carry away their new belongings.
- Larger retailers are matching online prices to keep in-person shoppers from defecting.
Webrooming is the latest phase of retail store evolution.
Today’s shoppers are well-armed with information before they arrive in your store, and they may be on a “mission” to make their purchase quickly and get on their way. This shines a new light on traditional customer service, opening the door to new best practices.
Understanding what motivates your customers to use online versus in-store browsing and buying options will help you know how you can facilitate their efforts in ways that still enable you to upsell them and keep them coming back.