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How Showrooming Can Lead to In-Store Sales Success

July 28th, 2016   ||    by Susan Kuchinskas

Webrooming and showrooming are shopping behavior trends that affect both in-store and online paths to purchase. Showrooming is a common consumer practice of going to a physical store to evaluate a product and then searching for the best price for that item online and buying it digitally. Webrooming is the opposite: Consumers do product and price research online and then go into a physical store to purchase.

In fact, the webrooming impulse is so strong that online-only retailers are opening physical stores, according to MEC Global. Blue Nile, a jewelry retailer, opened a store in New York and simply called it Blue Nile Webroom. Even Amazon opened a bookstore in Seattle to facilitate better browsing, notes The New York Times.

So which is the more propular practice? A Business Insider report found that 69 percent of Americans had webroomed, versus 46 percent who had engaged in showrooming. That’s good news for retailers who are willing and able to compete with price-slashing, high-convenience, online-only channels like Amazon. Tactics such as knowledgeable sales staff, in-store pick-up of online orders, in-store Wi-Fi, and smartphone discounts encourage shoppers to buy in the store.

The Path to Purchase

Retailers who want to get customers into their stores need to take these behaviors into consideration as they plan multichannel advertising. David Rush, CEO of social-media marketing platform Earshot, told eMarketer that because so many shoppers have made a purchasing decision before they’ve come to the store, pushing mobile coupons or incentives in the store aisle may actually be seen as annoying.

“Ultimately what drives business between a brand or a shopper marketer and a consumer is trust, and the way that you establish trust is through a consistent relationship that delivers value,” he said. In other words, brands need to provide consistent messaging to build awareness and trust via multichannel advertising carefully designed to influence shoppers at every stage of the consumer journey. Once customers are in the store, merchants can make these trends work for them, for example, by guaranteeing to match the lowest price found in a search, noted PracticalEcommerce.

Media Planning in a Webrooming World

As the MEC report points out, “The true courtship happens in-store when webroomers and showroomers get to experience the brand and/or product, a point in both pathways that weighs heavily on their final decision.” Therefore, advertising should emphasize the in-store shopping experience, access to helpful sales staff, and the instant gratification of walking out with the desired item in hand.

Discount retailer Marshalls consistently does this, for example, in its “Savvy Shopper” TV spots. In “Romantic Date,” a woman rushes into the store to find the perfect outfit for that night. In addition to hitting the immediate-gratification trope, the ad reiterates that shoppers there “never pay full price.”

Smart planners use media that provide reach and build awareness, including television, radio, print, and out-of-home, to gain consumers’ consideration at the top of the purchase funnel. They capitalize on this with bottom-of-funnel advertising and marketing, including local and spot TV or radio buys, as well as geotargeted mobile advertising. They also take advantage of their first-party data when buying programmatically to focus ad dollars on consumers most likely to convert.

The key takeaway is that retailers shouldn’t fear showrooming. Instead, they should embrace empowered consumers by offering them the information, pricing, service, and experience they demand.

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