Why Read this Article
Webrooming, the practice of buying a product in-store after researching it online, has gotten a lot of press lately. Some online retailers are worried about the possible negative impact of this trend, but for the prepared retailer, there is nothing to worry about. This article discusses how webrooming affects retailers and how online merchants can respond to maximize conversions on their sites.
The Rise of Webrooming
Across all verticals, e-retailers and traditional retailers are adapting to the new reality of omnichannel shopping. Showrooming, the practice of trying a product in-store before purchasing it online, is a concern for traditional retailers. But according to the experts, Millennials are actually more likely to engage in webrooming. A 2013 study by Accenture, for example, found that 82 percent of Millennials actually prefer the brick-and-mortar shopping experience for certain products.
This means e-retailers must be proactive about appealing to Millennials and other customers who increasingly expect a seamless experience wherever they interact with your brand — whether it be on their mobile phone, their laptop, or in a physical store.
Tips for E-Commerce Merchants
Given that webrooming is becoming more common and brick-and-mortar stores remain a popular source of sales (93% of retail sales are done in person), e-commerce merchants need to work actively to win over customers. Here are tips for savvy e-commerce merchants:
- Make all customer experiences complement each other. A customer should get consistent information (and a similar experience) when they visit your website, your blog, your social media sites, your email newsletters, etc. That means they should see the same colors, the same voice, the same messaging — even the same font. It should feel familiar to each visitor because the branding is so consistent.
- Emphasize your brand’s personality and values. One of the best ways to stand out and create loyal customers (especially when you don’t have a physical store) is to have a strong, recognizable personality, along with core values that align with those of Millennials. Millennials get excited about companies like TOMS, Patagonia, Chipotle, and others that have a clear idea of who they are and that espouse values like eco-friendliness.
- Take advantage of virtual showrooming by maximizing your online presence. Make your products easy to find by search engines and invest in white-hat SEO tactics to help your pages rank higher. And if you aren’t ranking high enough for key product terms, invest marketing dollars in paid search so your products appear above the fold on the search engine results page. Also, optimize your brand presence on online shopping marketplaces like Google or Yahoo Shopping.
- Embrace user-generated reviews. By making it possible for customers to write reviews of your products right on your site, you establish trust and higher levels of engagement, especially among Millennials. Even when a potential customer sees a negative review, it can underscore the credibility of the reviews and make a customer feel better about the purchase
- Prioritize customer service that mirrors an in-store experience.Millennials respond very positively to good customer support that is similar to what they would receive in-store. Make sure you can address customer inquiries or problems through any channel they would use to engage with your brand — phone, email, click to chat, click to call, social media, etc.
- Compete on convenience. Where possible, offer same-day shipping (or as close to it as you can get) and try to reduce or eliminate the cost of shipping and returns. Additionally, provide customers with a trial of your product and money back satisfaction guarantees if the product doesn’t meet their needs. This will help neutralize any advantage of picking up the item in-store at a traditional retailer.
- Utilize partners to refine the shopping experience. Smaller e-retailers can team up with outside partners to solve problems like same-day delivery and personalization.
By proactively making your company more responsive to customers who engage in showrooming (and webrooming) you will be able to capture more business and earn more loyal customers — including the key Millennial demographic.
DISCLAIMER: The views contained in this article are those of Affirm only. Affirm has not received any consideration whatsoever for creating this article. Any brands contained in this article are included as examples only. Affirm does not intend to endorse or promote any brands contained in this article.