Nearly nine out of ten shoppers have a shocking confession to make: They are webroomers. Find out just who these webroomers are, and how you can take advantage of their love of webrooming to increase sales and grow your business.
What is Webrooming – and How Can it Help Your Business?
Showroomers research products at brick and mortar locations only to make purchases online, primarily in order to get the best deal. Webroomers, on the other hand, do their product research online and then buy in-store. Find out what you need to do to make sure webrooming is helping your business.
It should come as no surprise to find another piece of evidence pointing to the fact that – for most businesses – adopting an integrated multi-channel approach including both digital and non-digital platforms, placements and promotions is the new “best practice,” especially when it comes to retail.
With the explosion of e-commerce and affiliate shopping sites, many retailers have found themselves providing a showroom where buyers can see, touch and even try on merchandise that they then turn around and buy from an e-commerce site at a lower price. A few retailers have even tried to charge a fee for trying on clothing and sports gear, knowing that they are doing some of the work of selling on behalf of e-commerce site that reap the benefits.
On the other side of the shopping coin is webrooming. Webroomers do their research online, but then make purchases at the local brick-and-mortar retail locations of their choice – often the one offering the lowest price locally.
Webrooming is the new norm for today’s connected consumers. In fact, according to retailtouchpoints.com, 88% of shoppers say they have webroomed in the past six months; meaning, they browsed and researched purchases online before buying in-store. Retailers need to be aware of the growing number of virtual window shoppers that visit their web site, and improve the site’s digital browsing and overall site visitor experience. For webroomers, the retailer’s website essentially becomes the make-or-break customer touchpoint.
Blogging about the phenomenon of showrooming in general, Chris Morran of the Consumerist points out that window shopping is an intrinsic dynamic of retail sales, whether you’re talking about window shoppers in a physical store location or virtual window shoppers browsing online. Morran correctly points out that, “it’s up to the retailer to either ignore them or turn them from looky-loos into bona fide buyers.” (Source:‘Webrooming’ on the Rise via money.msn.com)
Webrooming vs. Showrooming
Here are the top reasons consumers said they engaged in webrooming or showrooming, provided in a May 2014 report from Interactions Consumer Experience Marketing titled Retail Perceptions: The Rise of Webrooming. Noting that price comparison is the top reason buyers said they researched online before buying in-store, it’s also worth remembering that nearly as many said they participated in webrooming in order to compare products and do product research.
Retailers must remember to communicate features, benefits and value they provide over and above that of competitors, since most webroomers are trying to find the best value (not just the lowest price).
Webrooming presents real opportunities for brick-and-mortar-bound organizations.
- Webrooming is often done for price comparison purposes, which often work in favor of brick-and-mortar locations, especially when the cost of shipping negates price advantages of online retailers
- Even when they found a lower price elsewhere, only 6% defected to a competitor (non-compelling price / value difference) (Vibes Mobile Consumer Report: Understanding the Showrooming Shopper)
- Even after all comparisons were made, nearly 1/3 of shoppers that used a retailer for its showroom still ended up buying from the store’s own website (again, pointing to the importance of a seamless multi-channel brand presence)
- Webroomers that find positive reviews and ratings not only about a product, but about your business (the experience with your sales staff, product knowledge, product training, product support, returns or exchanges, etc.) discover more reasons to do business with you
- You can use web content to make selling points on your organization’s behalf, over and over again
Webrooming can help a business make gains in more than one area.
With showrooming, the bottom line is the dollar sign. In addition to outright sales, there are many other conversions that also constitute success in webrooming. For instance:
- in-store visits (and the opportunity to close the deal)
- calls to sales associates
- subscriptions to updates via email and mobile
- downloads of the brand’s mobile app
- brand followers gained on social networks
- data, call to action testing, intelligence and feedback to improve website or marketing
- increased brand awareness
- reviews and ratings (for instance, anyone can rate or review an Amazon product, even if they purchased the product somewhere else…)
7 Ways to Convert People from Webrooming to Buying – and Buying from You
- Optimize your site for search, especially local search, so that buyers doing research online will be more likely to visit your site.
- Perform keyword research and identify keywords and phrases that will bring online researchers to your site via organic search or PPC (pay per click).
- Don’t skimp on content, and remember that while a picture may be worth a thousand words to a person, that only holds true for people, not web crawlers. Make sure you have adequate content for crawlers to index each page and adhere to published best practices for site and landing page optimization.
- Improve the site visitor’s experience through better design, interactive guides, “you might also like” suggestions, engaging, provocative or even thoroughly entertaining written content, video, photos, charts, etc.
- Add elements that can create the tipping-point for webroomers, like reviews and ratings that don’t just persuade them to buy, but persuade them to buy from you, because of the buying experience described in the review.
- Strengthen brand identity across all channels; people who are webrooming should have consistent shopping experiences whether reading an email, visiting your website, scrolling your social network pages or visiting your brick-and-mortar location.
- While webroomers are on your site, motivate them to provide you with data, subscribe to email or text updates, follow your brand on social networks, and use retargeting tools to re-engage webroomers when they are ready to make a purchase.