Mobile CRM


Webrooming Takes the Sting Out of Showrooming

Showrooming, the bane of retailers, is the consumer practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to test out merchandise — say a new TV or electronic gadget — and then buying the same model online at a cheaper price.

Now there’s “webrooming” — a new buzzword for a trend that’s been gaining momentum as it shifts in response to consumer demand.

Webrooming is the consumer practice of using the Internet to research a purchase and then going to a physical store to buy the product and take it home.

Of course, shoppers long have been taking advantage of the data available on the Internet to research their purchases. However, the attention now being given to webrooming is significant — and not just because a catchy new phrase has been coined.

The introduction of “webrooming” into buzzword lexicon signifies that omnichannel retail is more reality than myth.

The Rise of Webrooming

More consumers will webroom (68 percent) than showroom (49 percent) this holiday season, according to a report from Deloitte. Eighty four percent of shoppers will use digital tools before or during their trip to a store.

Doing Internet research prior to making a purchase is hardly new. There are some shifts in this trend, however, that point to a change in how retailers are responding to consumers’ demand. The decline in showrooming is very telling. Retailers, it seems, have given up the ridiculous battle against consumer choice.

Granted, the vast majority of retail sales still occur in brick-and-mortar stores, but e-commerce has been making steady inroads year after year. This year will be no exception, based on holiday sales projections.

November and December online sales will increase 8-11 percent over last holiday season to as much as US$105 billion, predicted.

Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar sales are expected to increase 4.1 percent to $616.9 billion, compared with last year’s 3.1 percent increase, according to the National Retail Federation.

Retailers are adopting pricing to compete with e-commerce pricing, as well as delivery services that make purchasing from their stores more attractive. Retail centers are revamping to attract more non-retail traffic with the not-so-secret goal of converting at least some of that traffic into consumer sales. They are also installing mobile technology such as beacons to better target their shoppers.

The end result is that showrooming has become less and less necessary.

Implications for CRM

For CRM vendors and the companies that use these systems, the implications are profound — and change is coming faster than expected.

Smart, real-time omnichannel customer service is on the brink of becoming a necessity as more and more customers jump across channels to make their purchases.

Shoppers who see something online and then go to a store to get more information will expect some kind of continuity. At the very least, they will expect to be able to discuss a transaction across multiple channels without having to endlessly repeat the details.

Erika Morphy has been writing about technology, finance and business issues for more than 20 years. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.

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