Not so long ago, retailers of all sizes were worried about a trend called showrooming- where consumers go to a physical store to look at a product and then shop online for that same product at a cheaper price. But according to a recent study, it seems consumer buying habits have flipped around, and that spells good news for small, independent retailers in particular.
In October, GfK published the results to their annual FutureBuy® shopping study. One of their key findings is that the practice of showrooming seems to be declining while webrooming is now on the rise. With webrooming, consumers research products online, then go into a physical store to actually make the purchase. While it used to be that people would rely on webrooming for major purchases, such as appliances, big ticket electronics, and furniture, now consumers are doing this even for relatively small purchases, like health and beauty products.
According to the study, there are several motivations behind the webrooming trend: wanting to avoid shipping costs, wanting to physically see and feel the product before buying; wanting to get the products instantly, and being able to return products more easily.
So how can your retail store tap into the webrooming trend? Here are three strategies:
1. Make sure your web presence is optimized for local search. There is a lot that goes into optimizing your website and accounts on other platforms, including social media. Basically, your goal is to help search engines, such as Google, and local search directories know that your business exists, as well as where it is located, and what specific products and services it offers. You also want to connect your online profiles with other, helpful business-specific information, such as customer reviews, contact information, and hours of operation. I know that this sounds like a lot, but, once you understand the process, it is pretty straight forward even if it may involve a little grunt work. To get you started, here are several good resources to check out:
- How to Optimize Your Business For Local Search and Social Marketing- Quicksprout.com
- Local SEO: How to Optimize Your Website to Rank For Multiple Locations- Searchenginejournal.com
- Google Places Optimization- Googleplacesoptimization.org
2. Use highly targeted online advertising. Though there are many ways to advertise a business online, when it comes to local businesses, you will probably have the most success with the pay-per-click model. This form of advertising is not just Adwords, it also includes social media platforms, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest. Which platforms you will actually advertise on will be dependent on where your target audience “hangs out” online. What is really great about this form of advertising is that you can choose to target very specific groups of people or keywords which will help to ensure that your ad is being seen in the right places.
Another option to look into is banner advertisements on any blogs or websites that target a local audience. Again, this comes back to understanding where your ideal customers tend to spend their time online.
3. Make sure your retail location and online presence taps into the motivations behind webrooming. As mentioned above, according to the GfK study, consumers have several motivations for their webrooming habit. Make sure your online and in-store presence taps into those motivations. For example, you can promote an easy return policy, invite customers to come to your store and take a look at the products while getting helpful advice from staff about how to use them, or offer discounted shipping for big items.
Whatever strategies you end up doing, webrooming is one trend that you should not ignore. The potential payout for your retail location can be big, providing you a much welcomed boost in revenues.