Retail Tip 126: Take Advantage of 'Webrooming'

The latest retail buzzword is “webrooming,” which describes a fast-growing phenomenon that retailers should come to like—when customers research a product online, then purchase it in a brick-and-mortar store. It’s the opposite of “showrooming,” where consumers browse in a store, then buy online.

            As online shopping continues to grow, research shows a synergy, or mutually beneficial relationship, between stores and online channels. For example, in a survey by global management consultant Accenture, 73 percent of respondents indicated they browsed at least once in-store and then bought online, but 88 percent said they participated in “webrooming”—browsing online first before buying in-store.

            According to Accenture, which coined the term “webrooming,” retailers that deliver on their customers’ expectations and provide them with a seamless shopping experience—whether they are shopping in a store, online or through a mobile device—will win their loyalty and gain a competitive advantage.

            About 49 percent of consumers believe the best thing retailers can do to improve the shopping experience is to better integrate in-store, online and mobile shopping channels, and 89 percent said it is important for retailers to let them shop for products in the way that is most convenient for them, no matter which sales channel they choose.

            What this means is specialty tennis retailers and pro shops need to embrace and implement multi-channel marketing and merchandising, including in-store, direct response, website, email, social media and mobile components.

            A significant finding is that 94 percent of consumers found in-store shopping easy. But they are less bullish about their experience with other shopping channels: 74 percent said online shopping is easy, but only 26 percent found the mobile phone shopping experience easy. The point is brick-and-mortar stores have an edge over all other forms of retailing, and specialty tennis retailers have to move quickly to integrate online and mobile to provide as seamless a retail shopping experience as possible.

            This certainly seems logical, and something we have been recommending. Here are some other research results that help support this:

* 43 percent of consumers surveyed expect a retailer to offer the same product assortment online as they do in the store, and at the same prices.

* When asked what kind of information would be useful to have from their favorite retailers before going to a physical store, 82 percent of consumers said having access to current product availability is their top choice. However, the Accenture study also showed this is offered by only 21 percent of retailers.

* The survey also found that 30 percent of shoppers want retailers to provide a crowd indicator they know how busy the store is.

* After purchasing, 81 percent said it is important for a retailer to enable them to pick up or arrange for delivery of their purchase regardless of how they paid for it.

* 25 percent of respondents said they would be willing to wait two weeks for free shipping.

* Other consumers are willing to pay for speed and convenience: 24 percent said it is important for retailers to offer same-day delivery, including 30 percent who are willing to pay $5 to $10 and 19 percent who are willing to pay $11to $20 for same-day delivery.

* When respondents were asked what they would do if a retailer has a product they want but it was outside normal business hours, 39 percent said they would wait until the morning for the store to open, 36 percent would buy it online from that retailer, 22 percent would search for the best price and buy the product somewhere online.

* 49 percent surveyed are influenced by in-store offers (via promotional displays, salespeople, etc.), 56 percent are influenced by email coupons and offers and an equal amount of respondents say they are influenced by coupons mailed to their home.