Webrooming – digital window shopping

Webrooming is a new concept that online shopping has introduced into the retail sector. Webrooming is the concept of window shopping in the comfort of your own home, via a digital device.

Before the introduction of the World Wide Web, retail marketing was led by the principles of the 4 P’s:

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place
  • Promotion

For companies with money this made marketing easier. You see space for a billboard so you pay for the advertising; consumers see it and they buy your product. You pay money to advertise during radio / TV broadcasts; consumers hear / see the advert and buy your product.

Fast forward to a socially connected, digital world and these principles no longer drive marketing. Instead, the consumer is king and companies have had to adapt their marketing plans.

Window shopping online

People no longer want to be advertised to, they want to be part of the purchasing decision.

Consider this – how often have you Googled something such as best digital cameras when looking to buy a new camera, or visited a site like Tripadvisor to look up the top-rated tourist attractions for your next holiday destination?

We rely first and foremost on word of mouth from other consumers, instead of listening to companies tell you why their product is best. This is known as webrooming: the process of shopping where we browse online before looking to purchase in-store.

Omni-channel selling

For any business in today’s society, consumers will most likely start their shopping journey online. A store then needs to sell their products on various channels to reach the widest audience:

  • online: where consumers are encouraged to talk about products, review and promote through word of mouth. This includes both website and social media
  • mobile: where consumers can sign-up for notifications on discounts and sales via text or application
  • in-store: where consumers can finalise their purchase.

How businesses can take advantage of webrooming

Webrooming allow consumers to test, explore and engage with products before they visit a physical store. For a business selling a product, there are some key advantages:

  • become part of the shopping experience by sharing great, entertaining and engaging content on social media
  • promote a strong presence online by replying to comments on social media or ensuring direct messages / queries are answered in a timely manner
  • showcase products to a wider audience
  • redefine the in-store experience, particularly with greater emphasis on human interaction
  • run campaigns offering incentives for purchasing products in-store, such as check-in discounts or digital coupons.

Moving with the times

Tech will continue to evolve the way that consumers operate. It is essential to keep ahead of the curve in order to thrive and remain competitive.

Expect to see trends such as:

  • location-based advertising: where a person’s physical location can affect what products they see on mobile and social
  • social curation: where products are recommended more based on a person’s past purchases and browsing habits
  • AI and machine learning: artificial intelligence will be able to interpret data at incredible rates, and likely lead the way in redefining the way people shop.

However things change over the coming years, there is no doubt that technology will be at the centre of everything.