There are always revolutions that change customers and their shopping behavior. In recent years, one technology has been decisive for the emergence of the terms – showrooming and webrooming.
Mobile devices have been on the market since 1983. Together with the emergence of new technologies such as mobile internet with fast connections, the cell phone has become an all-round helper. The increasing spread of these cell phones, also known as smartphones, has had a fundamental impact on trade. In most industrialized countries, more than half of the users already have a smartphone and use it extensively in their daily lives. This increasing mobile use has led to a change in shopping behavior. Customers inform themselves on the move, discuss on social platforms, evaluate products via smartphone and make price comparisons online.
It can also be increasingly observed that customers are advised in the store but then look for cheaper offers online. This behavior is called showrooming, where the showroom is the physical store. The customer uses the opportunity to be advised in the physical store and touch the product, but then leaves the store and purchases the product online. According to surveys, 46% of all buyers actively engage in showrooming. On the one hand, this behavior is also important for online retailers, but it is a thorn in the side of many offline stores.
Also called reverse showrooming, is exactly the opposite of showrooming. Here, people inform themselves online about the products, read customer reviews and research alternatives. However, the goods are then purchased in stationary retail outlets. According to a study, 78% of buyers are webroomers themselves and inform themselves online before buying the product in the store.
This trend has increased in recent years, as the variety of information, test reports, ratings in the online sector has increased. Among other things, it can also be observed that the confidence in these online portals and reviews continues to increase, which will further fuel this webrooming trend.
Effects on trade
The changed customer behavior due to the digital change has already led to some casualties in stationary trade. A study by Scholz shows that a price difference of just 2.5% causes half of all customers to leave the store and buy the desired product online. The bookseller Barnes & Nobles, for example, announced that 18% of its customers order books via Amazon after they have been to one of its stores.
With the increasing use of mobile devices, customers today are better informed, use multiple channels and can compare offers online directly at the point of sale (POS). However, the digital change has not only led to a change in shopping behavior, but marketing strategies have also changed. Many large companies are already feeling this change.
Digital transformation helps to understand this behavior and should help companies to deal with these changes. Mobile is a big part of this change and will remain so.
What can retailers do?
In general, the trend towards omni- and multi-channel shopping has been going on for years. Customers in particular have become accustomed to moving across different sales channels. This trend will not stop in the coming years. This is the best way for retailers to approach customer needs on both levels.
Showrooming can be prevented just as little as webrooming. However, both problems can be addressed by customer-centric solutions.
With showrooming it is important to provide customers with the possibility to compare prices directly on site. New offers, additional services and also the classic customer conversation can already help here. For example, the required information such as ratings, test reports and other product details could be displayed on small screens, so-called digital signage. Price comparisons and product information could also be made possible directly on the phone using augmented reality. Many of these technological innovations help to better integrate the customer into the store and create an online and offline experience that helps the customer to make a decision more easily.
We also see the webrooming trend that even online giants like Amazon, Alibaba etc. are thinking about opening their own stores. Because many of the purchases are connected to a shopping experience. You want to feel and try products, but that is only possible in an offline environment.
Both examples show that the strict separation between online and offline has become senseless in the last years and companies have to get used to the new Omni-Channel world.