November 25, 2014

What is Webrooming? Boost Your Retail Sales

what is webrooming

Are you a small retailer in a cold sweat about showrooming? This trend where customers browse in-store but then buy products online, began striking fear into retailers’ hearts a few years ago.

Who wants customers coming in, trying on or feeling the products you offer, and then buying them at a deep discount from Amazon or some other site?

The trend was especially unsettling for small, independent retailers. While big national chains with huge volume may be able to afford to price-match online sellers, independents are less likely to be able to do so without losing their shirts.

But a new report from Merchant Warehouse suggests that instead of stressing about showrooming, small retailers should welcome “webrooming.”

What is Webrooming?

The reverse of showrooming, webrooming is when consumers research products online, then come into a physical store to buy them.

Webrooming is even hotter than showrooming – and it’s creating new opportunities for brick-and-mortar retail stores.

What You Need to Know About Webrooming

It’s more popular than showrooming.

Some 75 percent of men and 63 percent of women webroom, compared to 53 percent of men and 40 percent of women who showroom. By other demographic measures, such as age, consumers are also more likely to webroom than to showroom.

What might surprise you is to learn that consumers aged 18 to 36 are equally avid webroomers as those aged 49 to 67. Sixty-nine percent of both groups webroom, but only 50 and 44 percent respectively showroom. And while 90 percent of showroomers have also webroomed, just 60 percent of webroomers have showroomed.

Why Do Consumers Webroom?

Particularly when they could just as easily order a product online – why add that extra step?

  • 47 percent don’t want to pay for shipping. To make sure you capture the sale, try offering coupons good only for users who visit your site, then buy a product in-store. Or allow customers to order online and pick up in-store to save on shipping.
  • 46 percent want to see and touch a product before buying it. This is especially important with “sensory” products like home furnishings, clothing and cosmetics. Encourage customers to test products in-store, and create displays that are tactile and inviting.
  • 42 percent want to check in-store availability online - then go to the store so they don’t waste a trip. Look into an eCommerce system that has this capability for your store, and educate employees about the importance of making sure data is accurately maintained so customers aren’t disappointed.
  • 37 percent want to be able to return products to a physical store. You can capture both online and in-store sales to these consumers by offering the ability to buy online and return in-store.
  • 23 percent don’t want to wait for delivery. For those impatient consumers, be sure you have in-store availability information on your eCommerce site so they can check it out. Make sure that your clerks have accurate inventory info at hand in case the customers call the store as well.

The bad news is that 36 percent of consumers will ask you to price match online prices – so should you?

That’s up to you. Merchant Warehouse suggests doing it during especially competitive times, like the holidays. However, be aware that information spreads rapidly on social media today and if you price match for one person, he or she is likely to tell friends who will then expect the same treatment (and may badmouth you if they don’t get it).

If you do price match, you may want to set limits such as price matching one item per customer or deduct a certain percentage from the price without actually matching. That way, the customer is still getting a deal while also getting the product quickly.

Check out the graphic below for more.

what is webrooming

[Click graphic above for larger version]

Images: Merchant Warehouse

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Rieva Lesonsky


Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a staff writer for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Follow her on Google+ and visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.

6 Reactions

  1. Nice article. I feel that for webrooming to really take off retailers have to embrace the multi-device user, making their websites more user friendly, and above all mobile and app friendly.

  2. You don’t have to match price all of the time. You just need to be easier to buy it now for say 10-15% more than online and they save shipping as mentioned. And every small retailer should have an e commerce web site. They have the inventory already… why not have it going out the door and in the post.

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