Webrooming & Showrooming: Bad for Business, or a Big Opportunity with PIM?

Coming off the recent NRF Show, many great retail minds are on what lies ahead: the business priorities, challenges and opportunities. For years retailers have faced the threat of showrooming driven by the mobile-assisted shopper. Yet the tide is turning, ushering in the trend of webrooming, or “ROBO” (research online, buy offline). The buzzwords are enough to make your head spin, but are webrooming and showrooming really bad for business? Or, do they present a big opportunity to create a differentiated shopping experience driven by data and product content? Let’s take a look at how you can tackle the webrooming/showrooming trend with product information management (PIM).

Webrooming Vs. Showrooming – What’s the Difference?

According to a report published by Columbia Business School Center on Global Brand Leadership, the term showrooming was coined in 2010 when e-commerce analysts and the media began to talk about Best Buy becoming a “showroom for Amazon.” Thus, showrooming became a term to describe consumers using a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store to view products in person before buying them online. Now, seven years later nearly every retailer has served as a showroom for Amazon and other online vendors. No one is immune. Retailers have spent years trying to combat the negative effects of showrooming, namely price slashing and matching.

Meanwhile, as retailers worked to make the omnichannel experience more seamless, webrooming emerged. Also known as “reverse showrooming,” webrooming is the act of researching online before purchasing the product in the store. The trend is majorly on the rise. According to a Harris poll in the U.S., 69% of consumers webroom compared to 46% who showroom. Bazaarvoice provides an interesting look into which products are most often webroomed. For example, 58% of appliance purchases and 44% of toys & games are researched online before being purchased offline.

There are many factors that lead to webrooming. Consumers report that they like being able to touch and try merchandise; get the product instantly without shipping costs; take advantage of in-store loyalty programs; and have better/immediate access to customer service.

The Good News: You Can Compete On More than Price

Here’s some good news for worried retailers: price isn’t the only factor in showrooming and webrooming. Product information and consumer-generated content (CGC) play a large role in the research process. Furthermore, your own website can attract showroomers – not just a competitor’s. According to the Columbia Business School study, shoppers were just as likely to use the store’s own mobile website/app as a competitor’s website/app when they chose to purchase online while in a store. Clearly, shoppers are seeking more information in order to complete their purchases. This provides a huge opportunity for retailers to create greater value and win the sale.

Using Product Content & PIM to Reach Showroomers/Webroomers

The fact is that retailers don’t need to shy away from showroomers and webroomers. Instead, they can cater directly to their shopping habits by creating a seamless, omnichannel experience whether in-store or online. Product content bridges the gap.

To help meld the online/in-store experience, retailers can turn to a product information management (PIM) and master data management (MDM) solution that fully integrates all channels: mobile apps, online, in-store, catalogs, CGC content, etc. In the store, retailers must provide access to all the images, peer reviews, and product information to make an informed purchase. When online, retailers must provide the data and content necessary to fully understand the product, availability, and in-store purchasing options.

All touchpoints must work together with consistent, consumable product content to keep the sale under your roof instead of with a competitor. A PIM/MDM solution helps retailers achieve cross-channel integration, and collect and manage the data necessary to better understand customers and how they prefer to shop.

Webrooming and Showrooming Aren’t Just Buzzwords – Be Prepared

Webrooming and showrooming aren’t just buzzwords to ignore. They impact your business often, possibly every day. As you continue to look to the months ahead and develop your retail and technology strategies, take the time to identify ways to leverage your product content across channels for a differentiated shopping experience.

EnterWorks’ product information management and master data management solutions enable companies to acquire, manage and transform product information into persuasive content. This enabled content then drives higher sales and new competitive strengths through e-commerce Web, mobile, print, and in-store digital channels.

Contact us or view our PIM and MDM solution pages for more details.

Rick Chavie

Rick Chavie

Rick Chavie was appointed CEO of EnterWorks in May 2015. He came to EnterWorks after serving as SVP, Global Solution Management with hybris and SAP’s Customer Engagement and Commerce group, where he brought together digital and physical commerce and CRM assets for seamless customer experiences. Mr. Chavie brings industry experience from his leadership roles at retailers such as The Home Depot and C&A. He brings technology experience from his role as the global marketing leader for NCR’s retail and hospitality business, and management consulting expertise from his partner roles at Deloitte and Accenture, where he served clients across retail, branded consumer and wholesale verticals. Chavie is a Harvard MBA, a Fulbright Scholar in International Trade, and a summa cum laude graduate from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. He is a noted speaker at industry events, an author on the wholesale industry, and frequently comments on commerce, marketing and customer engagement topics.