The debate about the gap between online and offline retail shows no signs of slowing. Today the market is no longer about how brands want to sell; instead it’s about how today’s omnichannel consumer wants to shop.
Customer behavior is increasingly demonstrating two opposite, yet complementary, concepts… ‘webrooming’ and ‘showrooming’:
- Webrooming: when customers research a product online before going into a physical store to make the purchase
- Showrooming: when a shopper browses products in store but then makes the final purchase online.
In short – webroomers don’t want to pay for delivery but do want instant gratification. And showroomers want to touch and feel a product prior to purchasing… but are still looking for a deal.
In essence, they are opposites; however research suggests that most of us are comfortable doing both.
Among 18-36 year olds with smartphones, 69% of them have webroomed, compared to 50% who have showroomed. In the next category, the 37-48 age range, 71% have webroomed and 53% showroomed (1). The older the consumer, the slightly savvier (or more cautious?) around their purchases they appear to be.
How to Attract both Camps
When customers switch between online and offline channels in their quest for a product it can cause a headache for retailers. This is because the cause and effect relationship becomes very unclear and creates a disjointed and un-attributable customer journey.
However, this blurring is almost certainly going to increase and so retailers need to base their strategy and arrange their structures to embrace this ambiguity. So how should they attract both showroomers and webroomers? How can they effectively merge the offline experience with digital convenience?
In fact, to make webrooming attractive requires the same thought processes and solutions as making showrooming attractive. The main issue with both is the gap in the customer journey. Retailers must work to remove friction across touch points to create a seamless customer experience. Here are some examples:
Sounds obvious, but make your in-store experience irresistible so that both webroomers and showroomers are drawn in. Interactive fitting rooms, pop up restaurants, complimentary personal shoppers or beauty treatments are all initiatives which can coax customers away from their screens.
Link your physical store to your digital assets. According to YouGov, 78% of online purchases are made after checking out product reviews(2). So why not display them next to the product in question on a tablet instore? And whilst you’re at it why not collect customer details in store and stay in touch with them once they’ve left?
Review, measure and optimise every touchpoint, and use these insights to inform future strategy. We’re experiencing a steep learning curve and it’s essential to capture as much customer data as possible, to learn from and improve customer experience.
Break down silos in Head Office. Marketing, operations and customer service should be pulling in the same direction, servicing the omnichannel customer, instead of protecting their own territory.
Webrooming and showrooming are becoming an inevitable part of the customer purchasing experience. Retailers who choose not to embrace them could put at risk both current and future relationships with their consumers, who won’t hesitate to switch to brands that step up and deliver innovative options to purchase.