The competition between e-commerce and physical stores is real, and as consumer trends have shifted, brick-and-mortar shops have started gaining the upper hand. Want your online shop to remain competitive?
Here’s how to make sure your e-commerce brand doesn’t fall victim to the webrooming trend.
Webrooming: The process of researching products online and then visiting a store to make a purchase. [Adweek]
Before there was ever webrooming there was showrooming—the trend that had companies with physical stores clammering for online interfaces.
Showrooming meant that shoppers were using physical locations to browse through offerings and receive employee input, but were then leaving the building and checking out from online retailers with better prices–leaving cash registers high and dry.
A 2013 study showed that a massive 60% of showroomers were using Amazon to complete their purchases. Tough times for brick-and-mortars.
Motivated by the threat of losing purchases to companies that only existed online, retailers adapted by building user-friendly online interfaces ushering in a new era of e-commerce.
However, since the online shopping explosion, an opposite phenomenon developed: Shoppers began researching items online and then visiting physical stores to make their purchase.
So what happened? Why the 180?
In a modern world saturated with online experiences, shoppers now appreciate the value physical stores offer… but that doesn’t mean it can only happen offline.
What can e-commerce shops do to remain competitive?
In order to prevent webrooming, e-commerce retailers must completely readjust customers’ buying experience with their brand or face the looming threat of falling behind. It’s no longer about convincing the shopper to buy something. It’s about convincing the shopper they need to buy it from your site.
Here are the 4 biggest changes you can make as an e-commerce retailer to ensure that you don’t get passed up as the browsing boutique.
Offer an In-Home Experience
Nearly 50% of shoppers cite not being able to touch, feel or try a product as one of their least favorite aspects of online shopping. If your brand doesn’t have a real in-store presence, it’s time to establish an in-home presence.
Circle 21, a luxury candle company, delivers a uniquely tangible experience to shoppers by offering candle samplers for a tiny fraction of the standard size price. The wax-dipped sample set helps potential customers connect to Circle 21 in the real world, not just online, therefore bridging the relationship gap that many e-commerce sites struggle to overcome. The sample kit also gets delivered directly to their home, meaning their sample box could sit on a desk or in a bedroom for months, reminding the shopper of Circle 21 at every glance–and smell.
Keep Shipping Costs At A Minimum
If your site’s shipping costs are about average, they’re too high. Studies show that 66% of online shoppers have decided not to buy an item solely because of shipping costs. Reducing (or if possible, eliminating) shipping expenses for shoppers is an easy way to keep them from driving to their local retailer instead (where they can go home with an item that day).
If you can’t make free shipping work with your business model, try offering a discount on shipping after spending a reasonable amount. It’ll show customers that you at least recognize their pain points and are addressing them as best you can.
Make Your Shopping Touchpoints Count
Because your brand doesn’t get any real facetime with shoppers, it’s important that every touchpoint in your buying experience delights and conveys brand meaning. This translates into two things: 1). Your site should be a masterpiece of functionality/design, and 2). Customer service needs to be spectacular.
What makes a well-designed e-commerce site that converts webrooming shoppers? You can start by designing your interface with the customer in mind. Shoppers should be able to intuitively filter your products from the homepage or swiftly browse your offerings if they’re not sure what they want.
Visual cues should be continuous across the site and utilize a modern user interface. If your site looks like it was built in 1997 and might be run from a garage, you’ll immediately lose trust and credibility, especially from older shoppers who may still be wary of purchasing online. Although Amazon’s roots started in a garage, so there’s that.
In addition, even if your company has a perfect system in place, there will always be some customer issues that can only be solved with human help. Because there’s no local store to visit, all of your individual customer issues have to be addressed over the phone or email. Your service team can really establish brand loyalty by going out of their way to fix customer issues, even if they were postal service mishaps.
Train your service attendants to interact with customers in a way that aligns with your brand meaning. Place emphasis on making your customers feel valued, regardless of their problem size. It’s likely the only time a customer will interact with a real brand representative compared to store locations where employees are always available. Make it count.
Each and every touchpoint in a customer’s shopping experience matters if you’re trying to keep them on-site and avoid webrooming, which leads us to our second tip.
Rethink Your Post-Purchase Touchpoints
You may be able to sway a certain customer from webrooming once, but what prevents them from purchasing your item from a local retailer next time? It’s all about what they experience after their purchase.
Your packaging can be a real superstar here and set you apart from the classic in-store purchase, making your brand more memorable to recipients. If un-boxing becomes a significant part of the customer experience, you’ve just added a great reason to purchase from your site (and yes, the un-boxing hype is real).
Try adding a few unexpected items into each customer’s delivery, like a thank you note or additional product sample. Remember that combating webrooming means competing with physical stores, so your packaging and its components are an essential part of matching a tangible experience for customers.
A follow-up email is the last touchpoint in the customer’s experience, but is often overlooked by both e-commerce and store retailers alike. It’s a shame, since your past customers can offer something valuable to both you and your future shoppers–reviews! Polls show that 69% of online shoppers want more reviews from e-commerce sites, so you can really shine by displaying feedback collected from that last touchpoint.
Include a review feed with each item’s details to show that you stand by your products, even if some of the reviews dip a bit below 5 stars. Having a clear reference from other customers will prove to shoppers that there are, in fact, real people who enjoy your product– so they don’t feel the need to browse reviews elsewhere or experience the product in-store.
Have a great example of a brand using some of these techniques to push on-site conversions? Share below!