Webrooming & How To Start Analyzing It

We all know Google takes a big chunk of traffic of the internet, every day.
Some of it is ours. Mine as well. Looking around, for information, products, inspiration, … you name it.
We sure can say, if we’re looking for something specific, no matter what intent, Google is a service we use _a lot_ during our customer journey.

And that’s ok.
It’s normal.
It’s even a good thing.

When more information comes available, people will follow that information. Its format, the platform it’s hosted on or even where it’s located, doesn’t matter, as long as it’s findable and usable.

Something Google and its other services have been very good at & grown into that direction.
It will even more in the future. It’s called contextual modeling & gathering of information.

Webrooming is all about context.
Let me show you why.

Online as part of the customer journey

Forrester estimates that more than 50% of offline retail sales in the USA will be influenced by the web by 2017.
That’s $1.8tn in store sales influenced by online. More numbers can be found here.

Excuse me for my language, but that’s a shit load of cash!

And … showrooming is even declining! According to an IBM study, only about 30% of online purchases resulted from showrooming in 2013. A drop from nearly 50% in 2012! Retailers are using mobile to boost in-store advantages. So actually, the focus is shifting from offline to online. With Google Now, it could mean a further decrease of showrooming. On the other hand, there will always be showrooming, but your focus will be mainly online in the future.

This has a big impact on several things:

  1. Business models
  2. Organizational structures & silos (offline & online)
  3. Data capturing (offline & online)

Lots of opportunities there for retailers.

On the other hand, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Another interesting study by Forrester learned us that

  • 71% of customers expect to view in-store inventory online
  • 50% of customers expect to buy online and pick up in-store

This is even more interesting:

However, only a third of retailers have operationalized even the basics such as store pickup, cross-channel inventory visibility, and store based fulfillment. Retailers who struggle to implement omni-channel initiatives online also experience challenges meeting customer expectations in offline channels. Thirty- nine percent of consumers are unlikely or very unlikely to visit a retailer’s store if the online store does not provide physical store inventory information.

Think about that.
So, if my site doesn’t show matching inventory, I’m screwed?
Yes. Sort of.

Either way, you’ll have to do it.
It comes with the job as a retailer.
As you should deal with webrooming too.

Webrooming is all about context

Actually, this type of behaviour just got a name. That’s it really.
Showrooming are people who are coming into your store, look around, maybe try that jacket to see if it fits, but don’t buy anything. The same goes for online.

An example:

Oliver lands on your store full of gloves.
He’s looking for leather gloves, medium size, maybe in brown or even black.
He’s not sure yet, but got a very good idea what he wants.
He looks at the product pages, checks some prices, even bookmarks that particular product page.
He’s off again. Doing something else. Visiting another shop? Maybe he won’t come back till next monday?
While he’s traveling to Sweden for his work, he visits his Evernote list to find the bookmark again & check out all the different gloves one more time before deciding which ones to buy. He’ll ask his wife for a second opinion when he gets home too.
Just in case ;)

Another example:

Vicky heard from her friend, she should visit your website because they have amazing hobby stuff.
Vicky types in your website. Looks at a few pages. Goes away again.
She talks to her friend the next day that she might consider looking into your website in to detail if she’s starting her hobby class next tuesday. She’ll get more info from her teacher about what she exactly needs for the class.
The day after, she’s sitting in the class, while surfing her iPad to shop for the products the teacher is summing up on the board in front of the class.

Two very different scenario’s.
Both webrooming. Both multi-device.

Webrooming is looking around, clicking & exploring an online shop …
and here comes the most vital part of the sentence …
where her intent is the contextual data we can capture & define into personas.

Except it exists.
Not all visitors will be customers!

webrooming-showrooming

How To Analyze Webrooming

Webrooming is just a fancy word for contextual on-site behaviour.
Lets focus on on-site behaviour. Webrooming has a pre-journey cycle too. Call them Influential channels.
Channels or messages picked up by the customer before he even visits your website.

First of all, you have to expect not every visitor will turn into a customer.
If you think that’s the case or even 50% of them will convert into a customer (never seen that before), you might quit business.
You’re not realistic. There is more to it than just driving traffic to your site & sit back and relax.

Gathering Data

Start with your Analytics data & ask yourself these three following questions:

  1. Do I track myself in these stats?
  2. Is my funnel giving me correct data?
  3. Is my e-commerce data correct?

If not. Fix them first.
If yes, proceed to the next step.

Define Your Potential Customers & Customers

Are you familiar with personas?
Its a way of defining the type of customer you’re servicing.
A brilliant way to segment the market, but nothing useful for analyzing webrooming data.

If your a big ass retailer & you have all that big data (which you’ll probably never get), you can work at this level of personas, if you’re willing to invest a lot of time. A waste of time. For now. That’s nothing that will move the needle.

You have to define a list of potentials, to act on their data.
For instance, this could be a few personas you like to focus on:

  1. People who bought something (your benchmark for webrooming)
  2. People visiting the product pages
  3. People visiting the category pages
  4. People visiting just the homepage or any other page except a category page or product page

This is a good list to start with.
People who bought something are your benchmark. That’s your goal, right?

Draw A Line In The Sand

This is the trickiest part.
You have to draw a line in the sand to define the metrics.
Think about number of pages visited during a new visit, number of pages visited during a returning visit, …

Try to find an average for your benchmark.
You probably see a lot of returning visits & fewer pages visited, because people already passed that stage of webrooming.
Visiting & searching your site to find the product & already made up their mind.

Take the same metrics for the other groups,
and you’ll see correlations.

The next step is to try to influence those metrics & follow-up what happens.
You’ll see a big impact.

How To Test & See Improvement Rapidly

  • Analyze your data first to get a clear view on which paths are converting the best
  • Start Heatmapping & Mouse tracking to get insights in behaviour to support User Experience Design
  • Come up with an Hypothesis to improve this path keeping in mind each persona.
  • User Experience Design & A/B testing to let people find the product they need faster
  • Analyze & Repeat if necessary

How Deep Should You Go Into This Persona Thing

If you’re comfortable with this, you can narrow it down & segment them in a more deeper way.
Think about mobile only, Tablet only, from a specific country, returning customers, …

It has to match your business.

The only thing that is holding you back:

  • Time (& thus money)
  • Enough data
  • Data analyzing skills

Start of small to test with this persona idea.
Build upon it later if it works for you.