Look Out, Amazon: More Shoppers Browse Online, Then Purchase in Stores

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Victor J. Blue / Bloomberg / Getty Images

In the retail world, there’s tons of talk about so-called showrooming, when shoppers use real-world stores for browsing and websites for purchasing the goods inspected in person. According to a new survey, however, more shoppers do just the opposite.

The opposite of showrooming — purchasing an item in a physical store after conducting research about it online — has been dubbed by retail insiders as webrooming. And while the average consumer has never heard of the term, plenty plan on engaging in the practice.

According to a new poll conducted by Accenture, 65% of consumers said they would browse holiday purchases online that they would ultimately buy in person at a store. A slightly smaller proportion (62%) said they would partake in showrooming — browsing goods in stores before searching for them at cheaper prices on the Web.

Consumers are drawn to webrooming as a way to avoid shipping costs, fulfill their need for immediate gratification, and avoid some of the guesswork related to purchasing something they can’t physically touch and inspect in person. What’s more, because a growing number of brick-and-mortar-based retailers are now willing to match prices on identical items with Amazon and other major e-retailers, shoppers can enjoy the best of both worlds via webrooming: they take advantage of the online reviews, research and low prices offered by Amazon and the Web, as well as the convenience, service, expediency and tangibility of the real-world shopping experience.

A recent Minyanville post pointed out that Best Buy — which made its online-price-matching policy permanent as a counterattack to showrooming — could be a major beneficiary to the webrooming trend. Toys “R” Us and Target have also announced permanent price-matching programs, and Staples is among the retailers that plan on matching prices with e-retailers at least during the peak November-December holiday shopping period.

(MORE: Why Retailers Have Stopped Freaking Out About Showrooming)

Interestingly, the group of consumers that appears most interested in webrooming is also the group that has grown up with online shopping. Research indicates that webrooming is far more popular than showrooming among millennials. In one survey, 50% of millennials said they prefer buying in store after doing research online, as opposed to only 11% who indicated they like buying online after checking out goods in real stores.

Millennials, it must be noted, don’t assume that the cheapest prices are on the Web, once factors such as coupons, in-store specials and price-matching policies are considered. And they’re not making these assumptions blindly. Millennials are the prototypical “omniconsumers,” which is what researchers from the Vantiv payment-processing firm calls shoppers who browse, research and buy across all tech and real-world channels, and who expect a seamless, consistent shopping experience regardless of the medium.

Omniconsumer is another one of these retail terms that the average person doesn’t use, and probably has never heard of. Regardless, that average shopper today is an omniconsumer, and during the upcoming holiday period in particularly he’ll be webrooming, showrooming and maybe even engaging in a few other practices that retailers haven’t named yet.

7 comments
cirfer
cirfer

The entire premise of your article is wrong. All your article shows is that more people are trusting and relying on the internet to research their purchases. As they become more comfortable with their research their purchasing habits are sure to change as they gain trust to purchase on the internet as well.

BTW, while companies such as Best Buy try to figure out how they can match the low prices of online services, companies such as Amazon focus on how they can make their prices even lower then they are today. So whose the leader and whose the follower here?

Not only did this article lack research, it lacked common sense. Sorry.....


buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

"Webrooming"? Really? How many people really call it that? I call it going to the store.

goblue562
goblue562

Showrooming... webrooming...  Whatever.  People are going to look for the best price in whatever method that they can.  It's called "shopping around".   Why is this news?

abbottro
abbottro

It's best bottom-line price for most I'd bet. That said, usually up to recently that meant Amazon. But that is changing since "Prime" members who supposedly get "free" two day shipping for their $70/annum membership actually pay a significant markup to cover the 2-day shipping costs which is built into the "prime" eligable selections. And, in addition Amazon is lately getting greedy and  simply raising prices on everything. Finally Amazon is actively supporting states for an Internet sales tax ostensibly for "fairness" (a _really_ new tune), and to allow for more regional warehouses but not talked about much in that "support" is it wacks competitors nicely. 

I'm starting to realize that Jef Bezos IS the butcher with his thumb on the scale. 

Back to Best Buy for me. I've about had it….

tomvaughn
tomvaughn

Really Time? Did you just make up a new buzzword for researching online before heading to the store? And then on top of that say that Amazon should be worried about this emerging trend that we've all been doing since the web was born? 

Next you'll tell us that there's a new rage among consumers called couch-rooming, where people watch TV and are enticed to buy stuff they see in commercials.

swagger
swagger

amazon works their employees hard for little pay.  i'm glad to hear about this trend that keeps consumer spending in the local economy.