Dealing with Showrooming and Webrooming

Black Friday and Cyber Monday have proven that the American’s will to buy, buy, buy is alive and well. Shoppers also love to compare prices and ensure they are getting the best deal they can before they part with their hard earned money. One trend that has taken hold the last few years is showrooming. Showrooming is where customers come to your store to see the products they want, examine them and see if they really want to buy it. Maybe they test the smoothness of a reel, the action of a rod or see the true color of a new lure. They then leave your store without purchasing anything and buy the same product online for a perceived or actual reduced rate. Many times they fail to factor in the cost of driving to and from your store, the shipping, the interest charge on their credit card, or the delay they experience while waiting for their new item to arrive.

Showrooming hurts more small businesses than people realize. A recent poll discovered that already forty-six percent of Americans have admitted to showrooming this holiday season. It is easy to do as Cyber Monday follows all of the Black Friday deals and exposes so many customers to the latest and greatest goods.

While showrooming has taken a chunk out of many brick and mortar stores’ income, a new trend has started to develop: Webrooming. Webrooming is where consumers shop online for the best price they can find on items they want to purchase. It helps give them a sense of what a product should cost and also it helps educate them on the many features an item has. They may also stumble across a few videos showing the product in use. Instead of purchasing this item online though, they then go to a brick and mortar store to purchase the item.

Why would anyone spend time shopping online for an item only to go to a local store to buy it? First, they cut out the delay in shipping, especially if time constraints are an issue. Also, many feel that the lack of customer service on some sites is a turnoff. They would rather deal with a person face to face to make the final transaction than deal with an online store. Some webroomers will make the purchase online, but use the option to pick their item up in their local store. This is especially true of larger box stores, and online stores that offer this feature.

So how can smaller businesses deal with showrooming and webrooming to ensure their time with customers is well spent and not just helping another store or site make the sale?

Learn how to identify showroomers. Usually they come in with one product in mind and request to see it. They will spend time examining it and testing it out. They may also have a list of questions ready to go for your sales staff on the various aspects of the product. In the past these were the customers that you were sure were going to walk out the door with some new fishing gear from your store. Now, they are the ones that tend to leave you scratching your head and wondering, “why didn’t they buy from us?”

Once you identify a customer as a potential showroomer, the last thing you should do is call them out on it. Instead, this is when your sales staff needs to know how to sell the benefits of buying from your store. Teach your employees about your store’s differentiations – what makes your store unique. If they have a problem with the rod or reel they can return it to your store to be repaired or have it replaced. They can start fishing today with it. Offer free line or free refills with their reel purchases. Whatever it is you offer that an online store cannot needs to be stressed.

Consider offering an ad-matching program: tell them if they bring in the ad you will match it. If you go this route, be sure they also supply the URL so you can verify the price yourself. Get creative and realize that you may lose some money from time to time on one or two sales, but you could gain a very loyal customer that will spend more in your store in the long run than you lose on that one sale. Many customers will return to a store they see is willing to go the extra mile for them, especially if price is not an issue.

Webrooming is more difficult to spot than showrooming since the customers are online and there tends to be less interaction with online sales. There are ways to spot webroomers though. Look for customers who consistently add items to their shopping cart but never make the purchase. Are there certain customers that email you asking questions about products but never purchase them? These are normal traits of a webroomer. They are looking for the best deal, the best price, but are usually concerned about shipping costs, return policies and how quickly they can receive the product or what extended services are offered.

To counteract webrooming you need to ensure your site is enhanced to deal with this new issue. You need to ensure your store offers in-store pickup, in-store returns, and hassle-free purchasing. Look at your site from a consumer’s perspective and see what you may find to be an obstacle from buying from it and remove it. While profitability is your main goal, selling your products instead of assisting another store of selling their goods is a close second.

You can also offer online deals through your social media sites, direct email and mail campaigns as well. Offering repeat shopping discounts on shipping is also another alternative. Finding where you can trim a bit of your profit to ensure repeat sales and more loyal customers is the new trend in online retailing. While it is not as easy as it once was to be an online retailer, there is still money to be made if you play the game.

What are you doing in your physical store or digital store to combat this growing trend of showrooming and webrooming? What tips can you share with your fellow fishing tackle retailers to help them capture more sales that they may be missing out on? Share your thoughts and insights with us all on our Facebook page and in our LinkedIn group.