The practice of customers researching products online before visiting a physical store to make a purchase, often to evaluate the product in person or take advantage of in-store services.
What is Webrooming?
Webrooming is a consumer shopping behaviour in which individuals browse and research products online before making a purchase in a physical retail store. It involves using online resources to gather information, compare prices, read reviews, and seek product details to make informed decisions. Webrooming allows shoppers to take advantage of e-commerce convenience while experiencing the tactile and in-person aspects of brick-and-mortar shopping.
How Webrooming works
- Online Research: Shoppers begin by using online resources such as e-commerce websites, mobile apps, and social media to research products they intend to purchase. They may read product descriptions, reviews, and compare prices from different retailers.
- In-Store Visit: Armed with information from their online research, these shoppers then visit physical retail stores. During their visit, they can examine the products, test them if applicable, and seek the assistance of in-store staff to address any questions or concerns.
- Purchase Decision: After the in-store visit, shoppers make a purchase based on their in-person experience, even though they initially researched the product online. They may choose to buy the product at the physical store where they visited or, in some cases, use the store as a showroom and make their purchase online from the same or a different retailer.
Webrooming leverages the advantages of online product information and the tangible in-store shopping experience, allowing consumers to make well-informed purchase decisions. It's a strategy used by shoppers to ensure they get the best of both online and offline shopping worlds.
Pros of Webrooming
- Informed Purchase Decisions: Webrooming allows consumers to make well-informed purchase decisions. By researching products online, shoppers can access a wealth of information, including reviews, specifications, and price comparisons, ensuring they select the right product that meets their needs.
- Enhanced In-Store Experience: For retailers, Webrooming can lead to an improved in-store experience. Informed customers are more likely to visit a physical store with a clear intention to buy, reducing the likelihood of returns or exchanges. It also enables retailers to engage with customers who are genuinely interested in their products.
- Opportunities for Cross-Channel Sales: Retailers have the chance to capitalise on cross-channel sales. While shoppers initially research products online, they may make their purchases in-store or through the retailer's e-commerce platform, allowing retailers to capture sales from both channels and potentially upsell or cross-sell to the customer.
Cons of Webrooming
- Showrooming Risk: While Webrooming is beneficial for retailers when customers make in-store purchases, it also carries the risk of showrooming. Some customers may use physical stores as showrooms to evaluate products before making their purchases online from competitors offering lower prices, potentially leading to lost sales for the retailer.
- Time and Effort: Webrooming can be time-consuming and require effort on the part of consumers. The research and in-store visits can be time-intensive, especially for complex or high-value purchases, and some consumers may find this process burdensome.
- Price Discrepancies: Consumers who engage in Webrooming may discover price discrepancies between the online and in-store prices. If they find that the in-store price is significantly higher than what they found online, it can lead to frustration and disappointment, potentially affecting the retailer's reputation.
Below you will find answers to common questions
How can we encourage and leverage Webrooming to drive in-store sales and create a positive shopping experience for our customers?
To encourage Webrooming, retailers can optimise their online presence by providing detailed product information, high-quality images, and customer reviews. Ensure that the online and in-store experiences are consistent, and consider offering exclusive in-store promotions, product demonstrations, or personalised assistance. Emphasise the advantages of seeing and touching the products in person and highlight the immediate gratification of taking the product home.
How can we effectively manage the challenges of price comparison and showrooming that are often associated with Webrooming?
Managing price comparison and showrooming challenges involves several strategies. First, consider price-matching policies to align in-store and online prices. Offer value-added services and expert advice in-store to differentiate the physical shopping experience. Additionally, engage with customers who are actively Webrooming by providing incentives to make in-store purchases, such as discounts, loyalty rewards, or extended warranties.