How to Prepare Your Online Store to Capitalize on Holiday Webroomers

 In Ecommerce

We may be on the verge of summer, but savvy e-tailers are already thinking about and planning for the holiday season. It’s the busiest time of year for both brick-and-mortar and ecommerce sellers, no matter what they offer. The earlier they can get a jump on planning, all the better.

One trend you should keep in mind over the next six months while strategizing for Q4 is webrooming. This is a practice most ecommerce shoppers use to find the best deals during the holidays and putting into play can position your online store for success. Consider this your ultimate guide for holiday webrooming. We’ll explore its definition, the appeal to shoppers and sellers, and how to leverage it to make your ecommerce business ready for the seasonal shopping that is just around the corner.

Read on to learn more.

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What is Webrooming?

As digital commerce becomes ingrained into the buying experience, shoppers engage in two behaviors that fuse their online and offline worlds: Showrooming and webrooming.

Showrooming is the usage of a brick-and-mortar store for research before completing the purchase online. This allows shoppers to see a product, touch it and otherwise try it out before committing to buying it. They then leave and purchase the product later. The physical store simply acted as a showroom to that consumer, which explains the name and nature of this digital phenomenon.

Webrooming is easy to remember because it is showrooming in reverse. Rather than conducting research in-store and purchasing online, shoppers browse multiple websites to gather information and then visit their local brick-and-mortar location to buy. There are multiple reasons why some consumers prefer webrooming, but these are the three main advantages: Price checking, online reviews and discount codes.

The internet gives you limitless information at your fingertips, which is useful when you’re trying to get the best price on a coveted product. Simply search and see the prices at nearby stores side by side. In fact, 75% of shoppers use webrooming to find the best price before heading to the store and 88% are doing it to compare prices between stores.

Shoppers also use the internet to read reviews of products they’re considering purchasing. Online reviews are a powerful resource that influence consumers of all demographics. In fact, they’re just as influential as word-of-mouth recommendations from trusted friends and family members. That’s why many shoppers want to ensure they’re buying a high-quality product and use blogs, videos and other review sources (such as the “Reviews” section of your website, perhaps) to do some digging. They then shop in-store with added confidence.

Finally, price-conscious consumers use webrooming to look for discounts and promo codes. An internet search can quickly reveal if any brick-and-mortar retailers are having a sale. The shopper then visits that store knowing they are getting the best price out there. Also, if they are already at a different store, they can ask if there is a price-matching policy.

Why Your Store Needs a Price-Match Policy

Showrooming and webrooming are here to stay, so staying ahead of the competition come down to having the best price or else matching the best price consumers can find. If you’re unfamiliar with best-price policies, there are two webroomers rely on: Best price guaranteed and price matching.

The former requires extensive research of the market and what your competitors are charging for a product, but the latter is far easier and still provides the same benefits. With this policy, you match the price your customers find before or during the purchase, which means they pay less. Target, Walmart, and Best Buy are all examples of companies offering price-match guarantees.

It may seem counterintuitive to let customers pay less for your products, but there are four reasons why it’s a worthwhile short-term loss.

  1. Customer retention: It was already mentioned that the competition is largely based on price. Once consumers know you offer a price-match policy, they’re likely to come back again and again because they can secure the same prices without the additional effort of visiting other stores/websites.
  2. Better competition: Offering the same prices as large retailers makes your business competitive in the ecommerce landscape, no matter the size. Suddenly, the customers who were once flocking to Amazon for its low prices turn instead to an e-tailer who offers better customer service or something else that Amazon doesn’t.
  3. Higher average order value: Recent research has shown that 85% of customers shop in-store because they want to experience products before buying them. Then, when they go online to complete the order, 70% are looking for the lowest price. With a price-match guarantee, consumers start to prefer your store and order more things from you. That brings up your average order value and, in turn, your profits.
  4. Fewer abandoned carts: Nearly one-third (30%) of shoppers abandon their carts because they found a better price elsewhere. You can easily eliminate this portion by implementing a price-match policy.

Why Webrooming has Become so Popular

There are a few reasons why webrooming has become so popular that it’s a regular practice of 69% of consumers, per a Harris poll. For starters, the rise of ecommerce has many retailers in the brick-and-mortar space adopting multichannel selling by launching websites. This gives customers the chance to place orders from the comfort of their own homes and opens the total addressable market to consumers who may have never shopped in that physical store before.

Secondly, there has been a shift toward experiential shopping that has made retailers rethink their stores. It’s the perfect tactic for multichannel sellers to hook shoppers with a low price and good reviews, then seal the deal with an in-store experience. From creative displays to live demonstrations, there are several ways to engage shoppers who have set foot inside your doors so they can experience the brand and create a connection with it. Many companies are investing in employee training and in-store amenities like events and Wi-Fi to create spaces that people enjoy visiting with highly knowledgeable teams.

Finally, webrooming has boosted the click-and-collect, or BOPUS, trend where customers can buy online and pick up in store. It gives them the best of both worlds: the instant gratification of in-store purchasing and the convenience of shopping online. That’s why half of consumers are influenced by the availability of BOPUS. Again, if your website offers the best price, shoppers are apt to make the purchase from you, even though it means driving to a physical location to pick up the order.

Why else has webrooming become so popular among shoppers, though? Another report from Merchant Warehouse has some insight into how webrooming helps consumers bypass parts of ecommerce they don’t like while also providing the main benefits of in-store shopping. According to them, this is why customers are webrooming:

  • 47% don’t want to pay for shipping.
  • 23% didn’t want to wait for the product to delivered.
  • 46% like to go to a store to touch and feel a product before they buy it.
  • 36% will ask the store to price match a better price they found online.
  • 37% like the option of being able to return the item to the store if needed.

How Webrooming Helps Boost Your Business

As an e-tailer, you may think webrooming hurts your business, but the opposite is true. It’s time to embrace webrooming and use it to your advantage, so that by the time the holiday season comes around, you’ll be prepared for the rush and see plenty of new customers.

Webrooming helps boost your business because it forces you to be creative and finally launch the multichannel strategy that’s been on the back burner for years. Whether it’s opening your own branded store or simply selling your products in a local boutique or artisan shop, adding a brick-and-mortar channel opens new doors—almost half of customers prefer to shop in-store.

The preference for in-store shopping is driven largely by human interaction, but poor service can quickly sour the relationship. Kissmetrics found 71% of customers have stopped shopping with a brand after a poor customer service interaction.

This shows an opportunity to offer stellar customer service and build relationships with shoppers, both online and offline if possible. E-tailers without a physical presence can go about this via email, chatbot or SMS notification to stay in touch with customers and assure them you’re available in case they have any questions.

2020 Webrooming Statistics

In case you’re not already convinced as to its popularity in 2020, here are some must-see statistics on webrooming:

  • 88% of shoppers are webrooming, and 75% of shoppers use it to find the best price online.
  • About half of medium-sized e-commerce businesses are investing between $5,000 and $10,000 in new technology to help them better compete online.
  • Shoppers also compare shipping prices when webrooming. 51% of them want free shipping, but 65% will take action to qualify for a free shipping threshold. Most of the shopping cart abandonment is causally linked to the cost of shipping. Make sure your shipping prices are also competitive.
  • 78% of consumers have searched for products online at least once in the last 12 months, and 80% of local mobile searches end in a sale.
  • Three-quarters of survey respondents believe that ecommerce and other online businesses are ideal for gathering information.

Now that you know webrooming is here to stay, here is how to leverage this data to prime your online store.

Host Sales Throughout the Year

A National Retail Federation report revealed that 20-40% of small and mid-size retailers’ yearly sales are made between October and December, which means there is ample opportunity to differentiate with promotional events throughout the year. The same report found that 40% of consumers begin their holiday shopping before Halloween, so beginning your marketing efforts in conjunction with this timeline can help you secure some early sales.

It may also help your efforts to host sales on off-peak shopping days. Per research from Accenture, 64% of respondents plan to avoid Black Friday shopping because of the crowds. That will likely be exacerbated by current social distancing measures. Accenture also reported that roughly two-thirds (64%) of consumers utilize discounts like Amazon Prime Day and other promotions throughout the year to buy holiday gifts. Four in ten of them cited their ability to get equally worthwhile discounts on days other than Black Friday.

What does this mean for e-tailers preparing for holiday webrooming? It means that if you entice shoppers at different times of year than they’re used to, your brand will stand out, especially if you sell products that are harder to find in store.

Implement Easy Checkout

Holiday webroomers may plan to buy in store, but what if you could change their minds? Half of respondents in Accenture’s study said their holiday spend is heavily influenced by the ease of the shopping experience.

Easy checkout was one of the top measures of overall convenience, including purchasing through mobile apps. In fact, recent studies find that a difficult checkout contributes to 12% of all shopping cart abandonment rates, further solidifying the reason to improve and streamline your checkout process.

Jill Standish, senior managing director and head of Accenture’s Retail practice, said:

“Smart retailers are taking a longer-term view of the season. Rather than just striving to win new sales through ever-lower discounts, they instead see the holidays as an opportunity to define their purpose, engage in a way that is memorable and be clear about the role they will play in shoppers’ lives both practically and emotionally. Experiences that are distinct, memorable and worth sharing with others can be the foundation for a more-profitable, enduring and year-round relationship.”

Easy checkout can be as simple as letting shoppers log in to their preferred payment processor account or activating an add-on like Shopify Pay, which texts users a code to verify the purchase and automatically fills in details like shipping and billing addresses and payment method.

Provide Shopping Ideas

As the holiday season gets closer, consumers start to stress about what to get for their friends, family, loved ones and other people in their lives for whom they don’t regularly shop. That’s why 64% of them would have a better experience if they had gift guides and ideas provided to them. More than half of them (54%) also expressed interest in online wish lists to elevate the holiday shopping experience.

What does this mean for your online store? This is a chance to grab the attention of holiday webroomers with curated gift lists and the ever-useful product recommendations. Add some items to highly searchable lists like “Gifts for Dad” or “Gifts to Bring to an Office White Elephant Party.” Online shoppers will see your products and buy on the spot. Of course, a “Shoppers Also Bought” section at the bottom of each product page can group related items together and increase average order value.

The Case for Webrooming

Webrooming and showrooming are here to stay. Luckily, that has the potential to be great news for ecommerce retailers. When used correctly, webrooming can be a huge perk for ecommerce companies, and can open the door to successful (and lucrative) multi-channel selling! Need even more statistics on webrooming and showrooming? Here’s an infographic we created to help you out.