"Webrooming" overcoming "showrooming" in retail
October 21, 2014

For quite some time, there has been a grave concern among retailers about the appearance of "showrooming." This is a concept in which consumers visit a physical store to look at goods and examine them, only to then purchase them on the Web for later. To pour salt on the wound, sometimes these purchases are made while inside the store. This is seen as a threat to regular retail, which already feels their profit margins pinched by online retail. However, all is not as bad as it seems. In fact, there is reason to believe that the exact opposite is happening, called "webrooming." Storefront retailers should take advantage of this situation to use integrated payment systems to reach out to consumers better.

Research first, feel and purchase later
The idea behind "webrooming" is the same as "showrooming." A consumer researches a product in one format, purchases the good in another. Webrooming is a process in which a consumer looking first on the Internet for the product they're looking to purchase. Then they visit a store they know that sells it and examines it up close before purchasing it right then and there.

There are a lot of convenience factors that go into webrooming. For one, the customer comes into the store already informed. For another, it allows them to actually touch the goods if there's a demonstration version available. The person looking to purchase will already have an idea of how much it's going to cost through a quick guess of the sales tax, rather than having to wonder about the cost for shipping. Finally, there is the matter of possessing the goods. Unlike online retail, once consumers are finished purchasing the product, it's theirs to take home. That's a touch that online retail can never match.

Surveys are now indicating that webrooming has become the dominant method of researching and purchasing. Consulting firm GfK reports that only 28 percent of shoppers were showrooming, an 11 percent drop from 2013. However, more importantly, webrooming leads with 41 percent of respondents. The lead was applicable to all generations except those aged 18-24, and even there the gap was small. The primary motivations were being able to see and feel the product before buying, getting the product immediately, and being able to return items without too much trouble. Storefronts have a lot to take advantage of because of this continued desire of purchasing goods at a brick-and-mortar location.

Nexus: G-WEBCD2