Our shopping habits look very different from those of just a few years ago. Whether we’re making in-the-moment decisions or researching big ticket items, we use our mobile devices all the time.
For example, according to Google data, during visits to actual stores, 82 percent of smartphone users look to their phones for help with product decisions. And in the auto industry alone, mobile searches are up 51 percent year-over-year.
This integration brings us to the concepts of webrooming and showrooming, two notable habits and approaches when it comes to mobile use and shopping.
What Are Showrooming and Webrooming?
Showrooming happens when a consumer enters a brick-and-mortar store to physically research a product, and then goes home to make the actual purchase online. Often, shoppers find lower prices from other vendors on the internet. So, the stores become “showrooms” for online retailers.
The 2015 IAB Digital Shopping Report found that half of United States adults practice some form of showrooming, and it’s those aged 18 to 34 who are most likely to then purchase from another retailer.
Webrooming, on the other hand, is when consumers research products online and then go to buy them in brick-and-mortar stores. In the world of e-commerce, it’s like the flipside of showrooming, and is encouraging for physical retailers.
In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) research shows that webrooming is every bit as prominent as showrooming, if not more so, with 70 percent of shoppers browsing online and then buying in-store.
Considerations for Advertisers
It’s understandable that showrooming especially would concern brick-and-mortar retailers. However, it’s not as bleak as you might suspect.
TimeTrade’s 2015 State of Retail report shares that 85 percent of consumers like to shop in stores because of the interaction they get with the products. Better yet, once they get into the store, 82 percent will spend more than they originally planned to. Surprisingly, 71 percent of respondents said they’d rather shop in a brick-and-mortar Amazon than Amazon.com!
This piece from Marketing Land calls 2016 the “Year of Webrooming.” Referencing the PwC research (link above), it emphasizes consumers’ desire to touch the product, buy it immediately and be certain of things like fit.
What are consumers webrooming the most? According to eMarketer, it’s appliances, electronics and men’s apparel, while food and furniture are webroomed far less:
The article goes on to discuss how retailers can re-imagine the in-store experience, as Lululemon has done with free fitness classes on site, and Urban Outfitters has done with in-store bars and restaurants. Keeping people in the physical location increases the chances they’ll stick around—and spend more.
An interesting aspect of all of this is that in-store shoppers that use mobile more are likely to spend more in-store. One stat from that previous link shows that the average appliance smartphone shoppers spends $250 per shopping trip, but frequent smartphone shoppers spend $350 in-store.
All of this is to say that while showrooming won’t go away, there is the counter-movement of webrooming and a strong consumer desire to interact with things before buying them. And, smartphones play heavily into the in-store experience, directing retailers to create seamless, helpful, omnichannel experiences.
One very important thing to keep in mind: If you’re not showing up in paid search as your consumers are engaging in these practices, your competition is. The last thing you want is for the people you’ve gotten into the store (and ready to buy) to see a last-minute distraction that breaks the deal, or to not show up at all in the search results when a consumer is showrooming.
Remember to Measure Store Visits!
At this year’s SMX East conference, one of the topics on Google AdWords involved Store Visits. This metric, which uses conversions to measure how ad clicks influence store visits, is now available with expanded capabilities in 14 countries and has also been expanded from search to display.
While store visit data can’t be tied to individual clicks or shoppers, it looks at the number of people who clicked one of your ads and then visited your location. For setup and monitoring guidelines, please see the previous link.
A Few Tips for Local Stores
Ideally, you’d use your digital presence to bring people into your store, and then help them while they are there
Including certain information about your local store online increases the odds that shoppers will visit.
Once the shopper is inside, think about how you can engage the customer and let the mobile phone be another sales associate for your company. For example, Sephora created an in-store app that directed consumers to product ratings and reviews.
Taking this a step further, explore how you can create a customized experience for the shopper. Maybe you offer deals for nearby physical locations or include product recommendations based on prior shopping experiences.
Showrooming and webrooming aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and brick-and-mortar retailers must continue to compete both online and offline. To be successful, it’s all about offering a seamless experience and fitting into the customer journey—wherever they are.