Retail Marketing Online: Webrooming

Retail Marketing Makeover: Webrooming

Webrooming to Convert Brick-and-Mortar Shoppers

In this article, you’ll learn:
  • How Webrooming is changing the landscape for brick-and-mortar retail businesses
  • 6 tips for using Webrooming to drive business to your store
  • What drives customers’ decision to shop at a physical location over online
It was just a few years back that many were predicting the death of brick-and-mortar retail as consumers flocked to online shopping. Reports showed that many buyers were treating physical locations as showrooms, where they could view products that they would ultimately purchase on their computers or mobile devices.

Now new studies are showing us that an opposite trend is taking over – “Webrooming.”

People still head online, but they are researching and comparing prices and then going to a physical store to buy.

• 88% of people begin shopping online but purchase at a physical location
• 80% of local searches on mobile devices convert into purchases
• 75% of those purchases happen at a physical store and on the same day
• 63% of those purchases happen at a physical store within a few hours

According to Forrester Research, the Webrooming trend will drive $1.8 trillion in sales by 2017. During the same period, ecommerce sales are only expected to grow to $370 billion. It’s not just great news for physical retail stores; it’s also a online marketing tactic that retailers can use to their advantage.

How can you do that?
Here are a few practical tips.

1. Know your customers. It will be an uphill battle trying to influence purchases if you don’t have a solid understanding of who is buying first. Your goal is to attract a specific set of consumer values and tap into the more personal aspects of a product’s ability to gratify a consumer’s identification with internal and external values.

2. Decide who to target. Even if you only sell products in a single category, your customer base likely contains many subgroups with different values and needs. A broad campaign will be less effective than one that’s limited to those who share key similarities that you can influence.

3. Create a need. Your buyers are doing their research online, so direct them to sources that educate them on a particular need. For instance, if you sell baby products, you could point to articles that discuss the benefits of sound machines, something your consumers may not have considered seriously before.

4. Direct them to reviews. You’ve piqued their interest; now make it easy for them to select the right product in that category. If you’ve done your job, some of your buyers now want a sound machine, but the next question is: which sound machine? You can host the reviews directly on your website, or you can make researching options on third-party sites easier by directing them to resources. Retweet other users’ reviews. Showcase images and videos where you can. After all, the ability to use multiple kinds of online media is one of the benefits over traditional print marketing.

5. Layer on an incentive. This is the final step: give them a reason to go out today and make that purchase in your store. Offer a discount on those sound machines, and while you’re at it, why not remind them about the content trail you’ve laid out previously? Include links to those informative articles and reviews.

6. Make use of off-line promotions as well. That incentive can be sent online as well as through direct mail. Don’t give up on traditional marketing methods that are working for you, and may also help remind people that you are a brick-and-mortar location where they can get instant fulfillment.

What’s Driving Customers Back into Retail Stores?

In order to effectively harness the power of Webrooming, it’s key to understand the reasons why consumers are coming back to shopping at physical locations when they could otherwise click a button to make a purchase.

Price is certainly a factor if a brick-and-mortar location has a deal and online shopping options don’t, but more often ecommerce sites offer similar or even lower prices. So don’t be too quick to try to compete with the often steep discounts that major retailers like Amazon can offer. Instead make sure you are delivering on the other benefits that consumers seek from brick-and-mortar purchases.

A tactile experience. It’s more emotionally satisfying for customers to get to view, touch, and interact with a product, something that’s not possible online. So ensure that your store allows customers to get hands-on with products you offer.

Instant gratification. A customer has taken the time to research and compare options, but now that he’s made a decision, he wants to start using it now – not wait for it to arrive in the mail. The key here is maintaining appropriate inventory levels, or a consumer might as well place their order online and wait.

No shipping cost. You may be surprised by how much of a deterrent shipping costs are to consumers. A study from the Wharton School of Business ( found that people preferred a free shipping offer that saves them only $6.99 over a $10 discount on the purchase price.

Easier returns. This is an important one not to fall short on. People like to have the option to return their purchase to the store – in fact, 37% are motivated to purchase at a physical location for this reason. Keep your return policy generous and front-and-center, and focus on providing excellent customer service.

Loyalty. It’s easier to keep a connection to your local retail store, especially if it’s not a major chain. Customers can develop relationships with employees and feel a connection to the greater community.

You can help encourage this by supporting local events and charities and, again, putting the focus on customer service and a great in-store experience. So consider the boon of high-speed internet and mobile devices to be an asset for your brick-and-mortar location, and start using it to your advantage.

Bio Shepard Morrow is the head of Location Traffic, a business consulting and internet marketing company in New Jersey. Connect with him on LinkedIn
Posted: 12/2/2014 11:43:42 AM by Shep Morrow