Webroomers vs showroomers: can retailers be all things to all people?

With DS.Emotion’s experience marketing some of the most exciting retail and leisure destinations across the UK, we always like to have our finger on the pulse when it comes to the latest trends in retail marketing and consumer shopping experience.

Retailers should think digitally, but keep in-store experiences special  

Do you do your research on the web, and then shop in-store? Or do you head into town for the research phase and make your final purchase online?

Whether you’re a webroomer or a showroomer, it’s important for all retailers and marketers to understand the importance of a meaningful customer experience.

According to a recent UM study, a mere 3% of UK shoppers research in-store before heading online to complete their purchase (known as ‘showrooming’). This is a drastic contrast to the ‘webroomers’: the three quarters of shoppers who begin their research online, with half then going on to buy in store.

So what part does ‘the shop’ play in the modern consumers’ purchasing experience?

People are still experience-seekers. 46% of shoppers want to try before they buy, look and touch the product and have faith in their purchase long before they get their card out. While shops used to be playgrounds for purchase, in modern times consumers are turning to retail outlets to provide them with an all-round experience they won’t forget. From store-demos and engaging marketing campaigns right through to exclusive offers and events, today’s shoppers are treated to more than just browsing the aisles.

Practicalities also play a big part in the rise of shoppers choosing to shop in-store. 47% of customers don’t want to pay for shipping, and 23% don’t want to wait for delivery. If the product isn’t right, 37% like the option to be able to return their item to the store.

The importance of a physical shopping experience is clear – webroomers spent over 50% more than those who researched and bought digitally. Whether shoppers are inspired by an in-store experience or use a physical shop to carry out the all-important trial or try-on, the modern consumer isn’t ready for an all-digital experience just yet.

A memorable retail experience

Shops utilising technological advancements (interactive fitting rooms), events (pop-up experiences within stores) and new brand experiences (demos, tasters and interactive activities) capture the consumer’s imagination and drive them into the shop. The key question retailers should ask is: are we giving customers something they couldn’t find online? Any digital offering should ask the same: are we providing a service or experience our customers couldn’t get in-store?

Shops that provide a seamless digital experience win over both the webroomers and showroomers. Omnichannel retailers invariably win the retail wars as they attract the widest range of shoppers.

Showcasing reviews and advanced information in-store via tablets, and then connecting with customers after they leave by utilising web personalisation and social media helps to strengthen consumer loyalty and ensure your customer won’t sneak elsewhere to make their final purchase. Running a discount campaign? Make sure there’s a different in-store and online offering to capture a wider range of purchasers. Where you’re able to, limit the time or possibility for customers to research other retailers – make sure they’re actively choosing your brand for a reason, not just coincidence or as part of their research journey.

Creating a retail community

Retailers are now joining forces to create shopping experiences for the community and its visitors. Retail and leisure destinations are putting a focus on placemaking, such as utilising public realm to connect consumers and give them an unforgettable experience. Think pop-up stalls, street food, free entertainment and one-off events. Who wouldn’t want to stay around that little bit longer to soak up the atmosphere?

We understand retailers have plenty on their plate – they have shops to run and a brand to protect, after all. Often, arranging placemaking activities and large-scale events can slip to a low priority due to time restraints… so allow us to introduce ourselves. DS.Emotion has over 25 years’ experience in destination marketing and placemaking, working to transform places and spaces. We create communities and help retail and leisure developments do things differently. Take a look at our past projects and get in touch to find out how we can help you attract and impress those all-important webroomers and showroomers.