Consumer shopping habits are constantly changing. With the introduction of new sales channels and the internet being more accessible than ever, consumers are overloaded with choices of how to part with their money. Higher demands, higher expectations and tougher competition mean that it’s extremely important to identify and streamline the right sales channels for your market. However, since shopping preferences are always changing, it can be difficult for businesses to adapt to new trends and keep up with competitors. A few years ago the business world introduced a new buzz word called ‘showrooming’. It encompasses everything great about Generation Z – more technology, more choice and more purchasing power. But now with the introduction of ‘webrooming’ – which according to statistics is carried out by 88% of shoppers1 – everything we thought we knew about buyer behaviour on hold. Let me explain the difference:

Norooming

The most traditional type of shopping, norooming typically involves habitual purchases such as groceries and is often done in-store. There is no online research process and price comparison is only among what the store offers. This type of shopping is becoming less and less frequent as even when it comes to grocery shopping, 38% of shoppers look up information, 39% check/compare prices and 30% search for deals.2

Showrooming

city shopping

A customer is considered to be ‘showrooming’ when they browse a ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailer to help make a purchase decision but consequently make the final purchase online (usually at a cheaper price). For physical shops this puts a huge financial pressure on staff budgets and funding premises – especially if the stores are underperforming in sales targets. It is an unfortunate fact that the effort taken training staff with expert knowledge is often wasted on customers who buy online and were always intending to buy online. Online shops have always been a threat to traditional shops but when the potential customers are in the stores but not spending, this can be extremely problematic.

For the customer, there are many benefits to showrooming. From the the consultation advice, seeing the product in real life to the fun of the store experience, showrooming brings a new element to the often monotonous task of online shopping. But the main draw is almost always the cheaper price. It only takes thirty seconds for the mobile-attached generation to do an online price check while they are in-store. If they can wait to have the product, what motivation is there to pay a higher price in a real shop? According to a Nielsen survey, 51% of shoppers admitted to showrooming and this trend is becoming a hugely relevant topic in the context of Buyer Behaviour.3

For online shops, showrooming presents an exciting opportunity to maximise sales and keep overheads to a minimum – which subsequently keeps prices low. In theory the physical shops function to promote the online stores, which is why so many shops go into liquidation, but is this always the case? What happens in the following scenarios?

This is when webrooming or ‘reverse showrooming’ comes into play.

Webrooming

shopping cart

In this scenario, customers gather their research online – price comparisons and reviews – but then make the final purchase in store (offline). For certain items such as electronics, sports equipment and cosmetics, there is a certain attractiveness to buying in-store, from having it straight away to the enjoyable store experience. This is very difficult to replicate online. For products such as clothing, shoes and perfumes, it’s also easier to buy from the store in order to try things on. Of course, it’s still possible to purchase online later but there’s always a chance that by that point, they might want it straight away. We are a generation of impatient shoppers. Furthermore, we have the argument that touch plays an important role in sales. Once you touch a product, a connection is established and you are more likely to make a purchase. And with a well-trained sales team, there’s always room for persuasion. Whilst online shops tempt with price, many price-insensitive shoppers are enticed by the ‘have it now’ selling point and are too impatient to go home and wait for delivery. According to Interactions, 76% of shoppers actively showroom and 88% are webrooming.4 The problem with this, however, is that online shops lose out on that 12% and this is why we want to show you how to avoid potential customers using your website simply for research purposes.

showrooming graph

8 Ways Shops can Combat Webrooming

1. Quick, reliable and affordable delivery. Customers love to be able to track their purchases so if you partner with an external delivery service, make sure you choose one that can – quite literally – deliver. If you keep things internal, you have more control over customer service

2. Provide a high quality customer service phone line. Training staff who can answer questions about your product portfolio can mean the difference between a sale and a missed opportunity. It’s important to have an element of human interaction in shopping and it serves as a cheaper alternative to an extensive sales team.

3. Make sure that product pages are detailed and interactive with a variety of media. If you can create an online hub with a unique user experience, you can engage with customers in a way that cannot be achieved in real life scenarios.

4. Consider adding product videos to your website. According to DemoUp statistics, product videos increase add-to-cart conversion rates on average by 95% . In addition, product videos increase the time spent on product pages by an average of 2 minutes, are often shared on social media and increase order value by 50%.5

5. Host a User Reviews platform. If you give customers the opportunity to voice their thoughts about a product, the shop will appear more trustworthy and reliable. However, it’s important not to delete the negative reviews as this makes the company look dishonest. To find out more, read our post The Benefits of Negative Reviews for Ecommerce Retailers.

6. Have an easy no-fuss returns policy. This eliminates any feeling of risk or uncertainty when placing an order.

7. Create money-saving promotional codes. These could be linked to first-time purchase, repeat purchase, newsletter signup and birthdays. Alternatively you can offer complimentary samples or gifts. These tactics give an exclusive feel and usually increase average customer spend.

8. Ensure your website is mobile-optimised to encourage showrooming. If you want to go a step further, many shops now offer shopping apps which store your credit card and address information to make online shopping as simple as a few taps on a screen.

If you follow some of these steps, you can make sure that your online shop is actively competing against ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailers. For more information about how to create a Unique User Experience online, read our post here.

Videos in Ecommerce


1. Accenture
2. Nielsen
3. Nielsen survey
4. Interactions
4. DemoUp Statistics

Image 1 – Pixibay
Image 2 – Pexels
Image 3 – Statistics from Interactions Marketing

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