Webrooming and BOPIS: Digital Retail Tips For Your Website, Your Analytics, and Your Business

Many retailers are realizing that a website is not a billboard or a brochure, a static object that just says that your business exists.  A site is meant to be an extension of your business.   That means it must connect to customers who are researching products and services online prior to a purchase decision.

For years consumers have been web rooming, an online customer behavior of researching products and services before going to the store.   Web rooming behaviors can include searching multiple retailers online, making price comparisons, and reading user reviews, all while  in-store before a purchase.

It differs slightly from showrooming. Showrooming involved the same in-store behavior in which customers compare prices and research features, but the activity is done in-store  instead of at home, again leading to a purchase online.    This Detroit 7 news report back in 2012, during the start of show rooming trend, notes why customers grew to like the practice and the fears of retailer future at that time. They found better pricing in stores that they could not see online,  instant gratification of making the purchase right there in the store, and the avoidance of expedited shipping costs (although more retailers are offering free shipping).

Webrooming and show rooming evolved into different consumer behaviors which emphasized smartphone usage and personal convenience. Today there is  BOPIS (Buy Online Pay In Store)  and BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store), in which customers shop at home and then pick up their item (or return it).

BOPIS and BORIS represent additional opportunities to interact with consumers, which in turn leads to additional branding and sales.  BOPIS and BORIS trigger cross device usage, an activity that marketers must account in their strategies.

The payoff is significant to creating sales. eMarketer shared a JD Software report that noted  “half of all internet users had bought online and then picked up the item in a store at least once in the preceding 12 months.” The article further notes this trend “was up from just 35% in 2015.”  You can read more about it here in this eMarketer article: https://retail.emarketer.com/article/bopis-continues-grow/596541c5ebd40005284d5cb7

So how do marketers address these behaviors?  The first starting point is learning how these behaviors impact an analytics reporting strategy.  The following lists notes what analyst should be able to show in their reporting to understand behaviors like show rooming and :

  • Analysts must examine visits attributed to within store (show rooming)
  • Analysts must identify visitor segments that indicate online products and service research, combined with navigation to pages and buttons that support store activity such as purchase in-store or make-an-appointment.
  • Analysts must understanding how web rooming / show rooming site visitors are contributing to a goal (download, specific page, an action).
  • Analysts must developing detailed analysis of eCommerce reports to determine what products and services are regularly sought, and use some of device reports to note what share of smartphones and tablets are being used by website visitors.
  • As a consequence, the marketing team has to develop remarketing messages that supports web rooming and show rooming tactics

If these steps are not clear from the get-go, there are a few settings and adjustments that any business, from small business to the largest retailer, can make.

For starters, analysts can  consider setting an IP filter for the site traffic that takes place within your place of business. This setting will segment traffic that is contributing to conversions.

To do so start with an IP address at the retail locations – open up a browser at the site WhatismyIP to take a quick look at the IP address for a given location.

After checking the IP address, analysts can then set the analytics solution to highlight the desired segment. Several ways exist to do this, such as:<

  • A custom report in a web analytics solution that displays results that include the filter.
  • A comparison of filter traffic against industry metrics in the benchmark dashboard
  • Consider a cohort analysis when not able to identifying a segment of traffic is difficult. Start with event dates and see how purchase behavior changes by products, services, or other sales knowledge.  Examining the data can lead to new ideas about what customer segments are regularly converting, and can spark ideas of how to follow up.

To get your retail locations engaged with webrooming and showroom customers, consider the following as appeals to customer wants:

  • Emphasize in a remarketing ad or email that customers can order ahead of time, skipping crowded peak times and lines extended by in store returns
  • Use a display monitor in the store to provide more information on a product or service.
  • Pay attention to how customers purchase – that can guide decisions for data layer information used for tag managers and website schema.  Most analytics rely on JSON pairs that describe products, while schemas can use metadata which search engine can pick up readily.   For eCommerce this means reviewing product analytics reports to see what is being selected when web rooming and show rooming occurs.
  • Consider reward programs to sustain interest beyond a sales event.

Overall marketers must plan for effective cross device strategies to not only keep up with customers, but to retain them as well.

Avoiding Call To Action Errors – A Small Business Trends Infographic

Our friends at Small Business Trends, created an infographic that highlights how call to action (CTA) is sometimes not much of  a call and creates little action.  CTA is an essential component in analytics. CTA is what creates a click, and drives the purpose behind an analysis.  What traffic actually clicked? What’s the significance?

Moreover, CTA must be optimized.  The phrases used as a CTA are tested in A/B tests.  Improving CTA is linked to driving downloads of an app or purchases from a cart. And there are a lot of factors to what makes a CTA successful.

Take a look at the infographic below to learn how businesses drop the ball on CTA.  For more small business news, follow Small Business Trends.

Calls to Action Data

Why the importance of monitoring cash has risen among small businesses

Square Card Reader
Credit / Debit Card Readers like this one from Square have accelerated how businesses receive payments from customers. But they also introduce urgency in managing cash flow in a business, one in which new entrepreneurs may not have faced before in their own personal experience
When small businesses are launched, owners are taught that cash is an important lifeblood for survival.  However small business owners are also consumers, and these days consumers are less concerned about retaining cash than they have ever been.

A Pew Institute report confirms this notion. 4 out of 10 Americans do not save cash.

This perspective describes consumers, rather than small business owners. But many  small business owners are consumers, and that non-saving tendency is why setting aside the consumer mindset when launching a business is critical.  Businesses need to think about how they spend on items within the business that reduces their capital or ties it up too much into an asset.

The rise of BOPIS (Buy Online Pay In Store)  and BORIS (Buy Online Return In Store), in which customers shop at home and then pick up their item (or return it), are another reason business need to think about their spend more critically.  Customer transactions are occurring faster, with digital options such as paying online at a portal and mobile payment readers from Square, Paypal, and other providers.  The faster rate means businesses must think about how to time their revenue and payments and ride herd how cash is flowing in a business over time.

A lot of times business owners try to purchase items for availability rather than examining how those items are really used in daily operations.  Having assets sitting around is bad, but so is not having those assets to provide a product or services to customers.   Striking a balance between scenarios is not easy, yet business owners must be wary of having too much capital tied into an asset. Doing so can prevent a owners from making strategic decisions with cash quickly.

The current decline with Sears is a great example that small businesses can learn from. Much of Sears’ parent company invested into real estate owned by the stores rather than the operations or products/services that Sears. While real estate is valuable, it requires upkeep to be made valuable and it can not be sold as quickly as stock. That can make converting into cash difficult to do, especially when time is limited to make a deal or purchase.

Ultimately businesses must figure out a number of ways of saving cash within the business, so that options become better.  One factor that must be kept in mind is making investments that customers ultimately see and feel when engaging a business through its products or services.

Digital Retail Tips: 5 e-commerce site sales mistakes to avoid

E-commerce has become an essential component to retail, but it also can introduce a number of missteps to allow a customer to make a sale.  These 5 tips highlight the flaws that can appear (and some tips in avoiding them with e-commerce analytics).

1. Making online activities difficult for the customer to complete.

E-commerce sites can get a bit complicated when tasked to carry a multitude of products.  Any commerce site will require some adjustment to ensure that customers can complete purchase easily.

Thus a key analysis is to examine the visitor flow reports to determine which pages keep the purchasing behavior simple. Highlight where visitors are exiting a page, and examine the content on that page for improvement ideas.

Page speed can also be examined, to determine if images or scripts are creating page load issues. Slowly loading pages can persuade visitors to leave a site. Page load service Yottaa discovered in its analysis that a 1 second delay in page load speed can lead to a 7% decline in conversion, which means lower sales.  Check out this Zimana post for more on page load tools  and this post on tips to improve page speed for e-commerce.

2. Not targeting the right customers

To attract the right customer to the site, use the Demographic reports in Google Analytics to monitor how site traffic best matches the intended audience.  The age group reported should reflect the expected customer base.  For example, a music site offering downloads should reflect younger customers if the bulk of its music sales are the hottest acts that appeals to teens and younger adults.

3. Advertising that eats into low margin products 

Selling low margin products online does not eliminate the risk of selling at a loss. If those items require paid search to be highlighted, then the advertising costs can exceed the margins from each sale.   For example, if an AdWords campaign costing $2-$3 a click exceeds a $1 margin of an advertised product, then a retailer is spending more than what it makes on that product.

Periodically analyze the average order value of each purchase, and examine sales by SKU.  Is there a better way to offer the product – by advertising a low margin product as part of a package rather than as a solo purchase.

Moreover, analyze conversions from AdWords campaigns – are the click throughs leading to sales? Use Smart Goals to help plan the identify visits that are “most likely” to convert.

Follow up with bidding alerts in the AdWords manager to stop campaigns when bid cost exceed a planned amount.

4. Not carrying what customers are looking for.

Using the site search reports can highlight the terms in which customers are constantly looking for.  The terms will likely be brands or products not offered.  Frequent appearance of such terms indicate potential interest; Time after search metrics can indicate if people are remaining on-site after a search, or leaving immediately after a query, implying a dissatisfaction and that the item should have been offered on the site.

This CMS wire post can explain more about how site search reports can be best analyzed.

5. Annoying your customers with hidden costs.

No customer like surprise details about a transaction when they shop online, so a good e-commerce site should highlight complete  purchase information at the check out stage.  A product page should set expectations of what the customer will expect when purchasing.

Monitoring the check out metrics in the commerce report can provide an indication if customers are consistently leaving the check out process.  There are two steps that can address traffic decline.

One way is to set up a survey to trigger at the shopping cart when the customer drops out of the cycle.

Another way is setting up an A/B test to compare content can highlight what images or descriptions better resonate with customers.