Webrooming is the new showrooming, meaning customers will do their research online but ultimately buy products offline or in-store (ROPO). The ability of retailers to identify customers in their offline environment based on their behaviour and information online is crucial in order to close deals and provide a connected customer experience.

Today traditional retailers reportedly suffer from a phenomenon called showrooming. The core issue of showrooming is that retailers lack information about their potential customers and the offers their competitors have currently either on or offline. Or if they have the information, they do not have the ability to properly use it in their offerings on the spot for customers who are visiting their store.
Now a new phenomenon enters the stage: Webrooming. Obviously a reaction from customers who are fed up with some bad experiences of buying a product online, which, once delivered, did not meet the expectations or at least did not fulfil the expectations that were set online.
Webrooming is the behaviour of customers doing analysis or research online (RO) but ultimately buying or purchasing offline (PO); therefore the term used for webrooming as well is ROPO. As with showrooming, one of the required capabilities to deal with webrooming is knowing exactly what information a customer has been looking for online. It is also necessary to be able to attract your customer to come to your store and finally to make him or her an offer they cannot refuse.

Marketing, Clienteling and Mobile
Capabilities that are crucial in this respect are relevant direct marketing to this customer, having agood insight into customer information in the store and “controlling” the mobile space in your store.

First of all, as mentioned earlier, it’s key to attract customers who are researching online but do not seem to have the intention to buy online to visit your store locally to buy the product. It’s important to have individual and personalised targeted offers that will attract customers to come to your store with the intention to buy. To accomplish this, it is necessary to have a marketing capability that is able to give either real-time feedback to the customer or in a later stage is able to refer again to the customer to trigger him to come to the store.
Once the customer is in the store the staff in the store should be able to easily identify the customer and pull up all relevant information. This includes information like browsing history, wish list, buying history and,probably even most important, possible non-refusable offers! These capabilities are often referred to as clienteling applications and can run either on desktop systems available at the point of sale or on a tablet, so staff can easily walk around and interact with customers.
Customers are of course easily distracted, so it is good to pay attention to the mobile devices they might have with them once they enter your store or mall. Maybe with a technique like geo-fencing, maybe by pushing offers or information directly to customers through existing mobile apps or NFC. The main point is to always keep your customer’s attention on the offers you provide him.

So you can see that if you really want to address showrooming as well as webrooming, which are actually quite similar phenomenons, there are ways to address it. The solutions however must be interconnected and should be part of an overall Digital strategy and not one-off initiatives.

As webrooming is here to stay, you, as a true all-channel retailer, should make sure to have a solution in place that can help you address it. 

With NRF’s Retail Big Show 2014 coming up a couple of blogs will be posted around the event. Next in the series will be Fulfilling the Dream.