The explosion of eCommerce has been impossible to ignore, but the vast majority of retail sales - over 90% - still happen in brick-and-mortar stores. The growing trend of webrooming - when customers browse online before making their actual purchase in a store - has been embraced by 82% of consumers, according to a recent study by the consulting firm BRP. Webrooming allows them to gather information about products from the comfort of their home or office, then test them out in person while gaining additional knowledge from in-store conversations with sales associates. While the webrooming trend has been driven by consumers, it's becoming more common with B2B customers as well.
Webrooming offers opportunity for increased sales and loyalty
A recent study from the Harvard Business Review revealed that shoppers who conduct online research before visiting a store spend 13% more than other in-store shoppers. As the authors note, this finding contradicts the widespread notion that more impulsive shopping leads to greater in-store spending. What's more, customers who engage with businesses on more than one channel make 23% more repeat visits to stores than those who use a single channel—and they're more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends.
shoppers who conduct online research before visiting a store spend 13% more than other in-store shoppers
Clearly, wholesale businesses that embrace webrooming as part of an overall omnichannel strategy will stand to gain the most. In order to fully harness its potential, B2B firms should focus on making the purchase-to-payment process as personalized as the rest of the buyer journey.
Personalize the Purchase to Payment Experience
The vast majority of consumers—87%, according to BRP—expect a completely personalized purchase-to-payment journey across all channels. These individuals are now bringing similar expectations to their business interactions. The challenge for B2B businesses that embrace webrooming is to offer consistent personalization on all online and offline channels.
wholesale businesses that embrace webrooming as part of an overall omnichannel strategy will stand to gain the most
Start by giving each customer personalized terms and credit lines based on their relative risk and profitability. Make sure the terms you offer each customer are the same online and in-store. Use generous credit lines to encourage spending from your best customers, and smaller lines to minimize risk from less profitable ones. You can further personalize your customers' experience by offering rewards programs for your most loyal customers. According to research from Software Advice, roughly two-thirds of consumers say they're more likely to stop shopping at a retailer if they aren't recognized as a loyal customer. With the motivation of a rewards program, a customer may browse online at other businesses only to end up buying from yours, whether that purchase is ultimately made online or in a brick-and-mortar store.
Automate approvals and terms for immediate purchasing
Even customers who make purchases in-store benefit from automated processes. If a new customer asks for terms at the store, have them complete an online credit application that delivers a real-time decision and allows them to make purchases on terms immediately. After all, customers don't want to spend more time than necessary when it comes to obtaining credit. Other online options are also useful for customers who make in-store purchases. For instance, customers appreciate the convenience of online account management to track their purchase and payment history over time. They can use dashboards to choose how they want to manage their online experience, including electronic billing and automated notifications for payment due dates. Remember, customers who engage with businesses on more than one channel are more likely to repeat visits and recommend the brand to others. Webrooming presents challenges for wholesale businesses that must keep track of customers as they move back and forth between digital and physical spaces. However, for businesses that are able to integrate their online and offline processes and behave consistently across all channels, the payoff will come in the form of more sales and greater customer loyalty.