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.

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