Have you Webroomed yet?

Unlike the slightly suggestive title, today’s new piece of marketing jargon – ‘webrooming’ – is the simple activity which we are seeing increasingly prevalent where shoppers have already done their research on the retailer’s website before coming to the store.

This is as opposed to ‘showrooming’ where shoppers look online after being instore, so they can potentially get a better price elsewhere having had the tactile experience.

What is interesting is that a US study from Accenture found that 78 percent of U.S. shoppers had webroomed in the last 12 months, while 72 percent had showroomed. The proportion of shoppers who engaged in webrooming for consumer electronics and home improvement purchases increased significantly from 2012 — from 39 percent to 48 percent, and 25 percent to 35 percent, respectively.

This is good news for retailers – it vindicates that an investment in a great web experience will support the physical retail environment.  And if you talk to technology or high involvement retailers many will tell you the same insights – their customers are now often incredibly well informed and really come instore to validate the research they have already done.  And they often know more than the sales people serving them!

Showrooming is a challenge for retailers but it is encouraging that simply being better can help overcome this.  As opposed to what some shoe retailers (more in high end retailers) are doing in the US – charging a deposit to try on shoes that is refundable if you buy them, to put off habitual ‘showroomers’ looking to check out the shoes then buy them cheaper online from someone else.

Online supports a great customer experience

Unsurprisingly, the same study indicates that the ability to check product availability online before traveling to a store is the service that would most improve the shopping experience for 31 percent of U.S. shoppers surveyed. And, the vast majority of respondents (89 percent) said they would either travel to a store to make a purchase or buy online if retailers offered real-time information on product availability.

This isn’t easy for some NZ retailers whose legacy systems often mean they don’t know themselves what another store has in stock, so this may be further away for some than others.  But if the US research is anything to go by, it’s a great customer service driver and would enhance brand love.

Author: Ben Goodale