The Tables Have Turned: Webrooming Offers a Helping Hand to Brick and Mortar Retailers

The Tables Have Turned: Webrooming Offers a Helping Hand to Brick and Mortar Retailers

Over the past few years, brick and mortar retailers have been experiencing an existential crisis of sorts due to the impending doom brought on by showrooming – the phenomenon where consumers view products in-store, but then buy them online for a cheaper price.  

While showrooming has been a growing issue, retailers are becoming aware of the prominence of a counter trend: webrooming.

Webrooming, or reverse showrooming, is the practice of researching products online and then going to a brick and mortar store to make the purchase.

Yes… Yes… I know… You’re thinking “this isn’t new; people have been doing this since the early days of online shopping.”

And you’re completely right.

However, what’s noteworthy about webrooming is that retailers have begun to identify the trend and the opportunities it can offer them.

So even with all the talk and hype around showrooming, you can’t count out brick and mortar stores just yet.

In fact, new research is even showing that the threat associated with showrooming has been overrated.

Webrooming is actually more common than showrooming and offers brick and mortar stores a real advantage over the purely online retailers.

In the past six months, 88% of consumers have engaged in webrooming, while only 73% of consumers have engaged in showrooming. 

To break it down even further, 69% of smartphone owners between the ages of 18 and 36 have webroomed and only 50% have showroomed, and out of smartphone owners aged 37 to 48, 71% have webroomed and 53% have showroomed.

What’s even more interesting is that 21% of U.S. shoppers intend to increase their in-store purchasing – which is more than double the percentage of adults who said the same thing in 2013.

So not only are consumers planning to buy more at brick and mortar stores, but it’s also estimated that by 2017, webrooming will bring in $1.8 trillion in sales, compared to just $370 billion from e-commerce sales.

I guess this means that the showrooming effect isn’t the only way consumers’ shopping habits have changed since the birth of online shopping.

And in actuality, the rise in webrooming is shifting the opportunity back to brick and mortar stores, with the smart retailers taking action and working actively to capture those potential sales.

But, what it all comes down to is just one question: are you taking advantage of this emerging opportunity? If the answer is “no” or if you’re interested in how you can drive more webroomers to your brick and mortar locations, stay tuned. In our next post, we’ll be discussing how retailers can both increase in-store sales from webroomers and drive up purchases across all channels.