As we’ll come onto, showrooming and webrooming are rapidly growing trends. Here, we’ll examine both approaches and explain what you can do to stay on trend.
Table of Contents
- What is webrooming?
- What is showrooming?
- Showrooming vs. webrooming
- Benefits of webrooming and showrooming
- Webrooming and showrooming risks
- Showrooming trends
- Retail examples of showrooming and webrooming
- Key Takeaways
What is webrooming?
By definition, webrooming is a slang term referring to the practice of conducting online product research before visiting a brick-and-mortar store to buy an item.
COVID-19 made this shopping trend all the more popular as consumers took their browsing digital to keep safe. Post-pandemic, it seems, we’ve all grown accustomed to webrooming.
Webrooming is often talked about in relation to another popular term: showrooming.
What is showrooming?
In the marketing world, showrooming refers to the act of researching products in a physical store before buying them online. In other words, showrooming is the opposite of webrooming.
Showrooming also has another popular meaning among brand leaders. It can refer to a low or zero inventory marketing strategy retailers use in brick-and-mortar stores to create a more experiential, less transactional environment. Quite literally, it’s the process by which brands transform their stores into showrooms.
Showrooming vs. webrooming
Typically, webrooming is more popular among consumers than showrooming. 68% of consumers are webroomers, preferring to make the final purchasing decision in a brick-and-mortar store.
For comparison, only 30% of shoppers are considered to be showrooms, testing out products in-store and later buying them online.
Why is webrooming so popular?
Webrooming is particularly common at the moment because:
- Retailers are focusing on enhancing the in-store experience
- Employee training is more important as customers look for more meaningful retail connections
- Click and collect has made picking up orders more convenient
- Brick-and-mortar stores offer WiFi and events to draw customers in
- Ecommerce vouchers for nearby in-store discounts are more popular
- How to improve webrooming and showrooming
- Which retailers are webrooming and showrooming
While webrooming and showrooming are at odds with one another, they’ve both been triggered by the digital revolution. The invention of smartphones, laptops and other portable electronics has enabled ecommerce and both of these shopping behaviors to become the norm.
Benefits of webrooming and showrooming
Showrooming and webrooming haven’t become wildly popular for no reason.
Here’s the main benefits of the phenomenons:
Increases store space
With showrooming, the idea is to let visitors try-on or test out products without any pressure to buy them. This means you don’t need to have as much stock in-store, which can save you lots of space. You might even save on rent and reduce other expenses.
Additionally, you’re getting rid of a paint point – choice paralysis. Filling your shelves with products can actually overwhelm consumers. In the presence of too many options, some customers become indecisive and ultimately don’t convert.
By keeping things nice and simple in your stores, you might see better results.
More customer data
Your showrooming customers can share shopping preferences and more to inform your marketing efforts.
Webrooming and showrooming are great ways to upsell and cross-sell goods.
For instance, while showroom customers are testing out items in-store, with the right marketing, you can generate interest in other products. When they visit your online store to make the final payment, they may have a bigger basket size than they otherwise would have.
Likewise, consumers who found a product they want online may end up spotting other items in-store and spend much more than they initially planned.
Customers get products immediately
Same-day delivery is a major step in the right direction, but it’s still a form of delayed gratification. Nothing can compete with the instant rush consumers get when they buy in-store and can use their goods immediately.
Webrooming is a smart way to give consumers instant-access to the products they want, while still promoting your online store during the research process.
This brings us nicely onto another benefit of webrooming.
Removes shipping costs
As we mentioned in our Returns Management Guide, shipping costs are a major deterrent to consumers. According to a recent study, sales can fall by 74%-100% when consumers are required to pay for shipping.
If free shipping isn’t feasible for your business, webrooming offers the perfect low-cost solution. As we’ve mentioned, webrooming offers near-instant gratifications because consumers can research products online and come in-store to buy them there and then.
You can even take the webrooming trend further by investing in a robust Click and Collect to drive conversion further. Consumers can place an order online and come in-store with the certainty that they’re not wasting a trip–they’ve already paid for the item they want.
Increases customer loyalty
Stock-heavy isles and checkout counters as far as the eye can see can create an overtly transactional retail environment that lacks excitement.
Send the right message to your customers by prioritzing their in-store experience and building long-lasting connections with webrooming and showrooming. Turn your salespeople into personal shoppers and ensure they’re around to help your customers rather than give them a hard-sell.
Webrooming and showrooming risks
With these two shopping habits, as with any retail strategy, there are some risks to be aware of.
Here’s the two main issues to consider:
Losing customers to competitors
Inevitably, when customers test products in your stores and later buy them online, they may spot promotions or similar products on competitor sites. The same is true for webrooming.
To the consumer, this is completely normal – although knowing you lost a sale is a tough thing for any retailer to bear.
That said, there are things you can do to reduce competition showrooming. For example, if you can’t beat competitors on price, beat them with a better store experience.
Difficult to attribute sales and monitor stock
It’s also difficult to directly attribute sales to showrooming or webrooming. If you’re not asking consumers where they first heard about the product, it’ll be difficult to pin down the direct correlation between your showroom and online sales, or vice versa.
Similarly, the rise of showrooming and webrooming makes stock inventory management more important. Online customers need to be able to see accurate stock levels on your website – there’s nothing worse than buying a product and experiencing delays due to low stock.
Consider using an Inventory Management System to keep on top of your stock.
To create the greatest showrooms you can, take inspiration from these trends:
- Seamless shopping: Showrooming has the best of both retail worlds. Consumers enjoy personalized service in-store but can return home to easily buy products without queuing.
- Content studios: Once you’ve decided to make your stores less transaction-driven, you can completely rethink your use of space. Many brands are turning their stores into Instagrammable sets to engage more younger consumers. You’ll also get free advertising from shoppers in the process.
- Appointments: Increasingly, retailers are using Appointment Scheduling systems to enhance the webrooming and showrooming journey. It also provides a great upselling opportunity.
- Live shop: Webrooming has also spawned another digital phenomenon: Live Shopping. Already the norm in Chinese retail, western retailers are following suit by interacting with customers in real-time over video call to answer their questions.
How to improve webrooming and showrooming
Follow these best practice recommendations to enhance your webrooming and showrooming journey:
Make sure your online and in-store shopping experiences compliment one another. For example, share in-store promotions online, launch pop-up stores or use Augmented Reality (AR) on your ecommerce site.
This way, you’ll engage more with the 73% of customers that prefer to use multiple channels to shop.
Ask for reviews
According to Retail Choreography, 68% of consumers read up to six reviews before making a purchase. Making sure you have as many positive reviews as possible then is crucial. Send marketing emails and put up in-store signage that encourage your customers to leave reviews.
While you’re at it, don’t forget to encourage your customers to follow your social media accounts, use your hashtags and share product photos. Give consumers incentives using contests and e-vouchers.
Promote brick-and-mortar discounts
Typically, showroomers make the final purchase online because they know the same products will be cheaper there than in-store. This is, ultimately, why showrooming originally became so popular.
Change customer expectations by discounting in-store products. Cross-sell by offering product bundles at lower-than-online prices. Traffic to your showrooms and customer satisfaction will increase exponentially.
Transform your spaces into showrooms
It’s more difficult to stand out from other brands in the current retail climate. Ecommerce has given rise to many more challenger brands than enterprise retailers could have expected.
To leave a lasting impression, retailers should look to radically rethink their stores. Traditionally, shoppers think of stores as having high shelves filled with stock and little else. But what happens if you drastically reduce your stock and say goodbye to aisle shopping?
The store becomes exciting–it becomes a showroom. A testing ground for new products that draws consumers in for unique experiences.
Examples of retailers using showrooming and webrooming
Showrooming is becoming increasingly more common as retailers realize its brand image-boosting potential.
Here’s three retailers who are leading the way:
Bonobos’ showrooms–or “guideshops”, as they call them–were the among the first to really take the world by storm. The guideshops don’t have any checkouts, so consumers can’t buy items on the day.
This bold decision has changed the very nature of their stores. Bonobos’ personal shoppers aren’t there to sell to visitors–they’re there to welcome them and give them one-on-one styling advice.
Speaking to the New York Times, founder Andy Dunn said: “you don’t have anyone manning a stockroom or playing defense against changing rooms where customers are dumping inventory in a corner. You don’t have the same folding nightmare or visual presentations nightmare.”
Currently, Bonobos has over 60 guideshops.
In 2021, luxury retailer Burberry defied the line between webrooming and showrooming with their virtual store.
Consumers experienced an interactive virtual store tour complete with digital product viewings, 3D renderings of real products and some elegant background music.
They could even book an appointment thanks to Qudini’s Scheduling software.
Naturally, we couldn’t forget the leader in showrooming–IKEA. With different sets made to look like traditional homes, IKEA’s big-box stores epitomize everything that’s right with showrooming.
With planning and consultation services, IKEA offers a comprehensive retail experience around the customer’s needs.
We just threw a lot of information at you. So, for a simple recap, just remember:
- Showrooming is when a consumer researches products in a physical store but makes their final purchasing decision online.
- Webrooming is when a consumer researches products online but makes their final purchasing decision in a physical store.
- Webrooming and showrooming can increase store space, provide more upselling opportunities and strengthen your customer relationships.
- Be aware that you may lose customers to competitors with better deals so it’s important to offer a great in-store and online experience to boost loyalty.
- Ask for reviews, offer in-store discounts and create exciting showroom spaces to increase traffic to your showrooms.