Responding to ‘webrooming’ by enhancing the online experience

Industry Insight

For many years, brick-and-mortar retailers were fearing “showrooming,” which is when consumers head into stores to view a product before buying it online. Conversely, for eCommerce stores, the rise of this trend was great as it meant more money going into their pockets.

Physical shops responded to this perceived threat by integrating omnichannel eCommerce operations to tie offline and online experiences together. This created a more engaging shopping experience for customers, regardless of whether they were in-store, or online. Plus this encouraged more people to shop at brick-and-mortar locations.

Now, the onus is back on the online retailers to step their game up and match the customer experience provided by merchants delivering an omnichannel experience.

For many years, brick-and-mortar retailers were fearing “showrooming,” which is when consumers head in stores to view a product before buying it online.

“Webrooming” has started to become a perceived threat among many online retailers, with customers researching products online and reading reviews before deciding to make purchases in-store to avoid shipping fees and deals.

“Suddenly, retailers are more cognizant of the practice  –  and they’re finding ways to encourage webroomers to complete purchases in their stores,” Multichannel Merchant explained. “For example, retailers are offering ‘match any online price’ deals, mobile or printable coupons redeemable in-store, and same-day store pickup to entice shoppers who research products online to fulfill purchases in their stores.”

Combating the webrooming phenomenon by improving the customer experience

Just as brick-and-mortar retailers discovered ways to make the in-store shopping experience more attractive to win back customers, online retailers need to take similar measures to keep customers online.

This starts by understanding why people are headed offline to finalize purchases. Shipping is one of the leading reasons, with a report from the UPS suggesting shipping costs, the delay of delivery and receiving damaged goods due to shipping/packaging were the top three detractions of shopping online.

So what can retailers do in this situation? Obviously shipping is a necessity to all eCommerce operations. However, merchants can make it less of an inconvenience as convenience and flexibility are two of the key drivers behind a successful customer experience.

As many as one-third of online merchants now offer unconditional free shipping, according to a report from Internet Retailer, to address the cost factor as well as improve the customer experience. Online retailers may also want to reconsider their third-party logistics and warehouse management functions to offer quicker shipping for lower costs to their customers.

Amazon has led the charge in that regard with services such as Amazon Prime. People who subscribe to Amazon Prime can get free, 48-hour delivery with each purchase. Online retailers are looking to further improve this offering with same-day shipping if customers purchase an item from a local warehouse.

Shipping costs, the delay of delivery and receiving damaged goods due to shipping/packaging were the top three detractions of shopping online.

Amazon Prime has done wonders for the company, with subscribers expected to surpass the 25 million mark in the next few years. Additionally, Vator News reported that each Amazon Prime subscriber spends upward of $1,200 annually.

For Amazon, the creation of Amazon Prime not only encourages people to make purchases online, it also encourages them to make subsequent purchases. When it comes down to it, that’s the goal of any successful retailer – win customers and convert them into loyal, regular buyers. Amazon was able to achieve this goal simply by making shipping as small a factor as possible.

Although creating a subscription service may not work for all retailers, they can learn from Amazon’s approach. If merchants find more customers are making in-store purchases, they need to identify why this is happening and then make the appropriate adjustments to their eCommerce operations to encourage shoppers to buy online. At the end of the day, it is all about the customer experience.