While headed home late after a hectic week at work, Carol suddenly realizes that her friend’s birthday bash is THIS weekend. In a split second, she also realizes that she hasn’t bought a present for her friend, nor does she have anything to wear to the party, which is at the swankiest new club in town.
The stores are already closed for the night and she doesn’t have much time the next day to traipse all over town looking for the perfect present or outfit. As soon as she gets home, she goes online to do her research. She spends her evening looking for both the gift and the outfit, then goes into the store the next day to pick them up.
The above story is far from being rare. More and more shoppers are using online stores as to research their offline purchases in a phenomenon called ‘webrooming’. In fact, a recent research study found that 81 per cent of shoppers research their purchases online before buying offline. People are busier than ever and the choices are more plentiful than ever, so shopping around online to be more strategic about where to go to buy in-person makes perfect sense.
This phenomenon is the opposite of the much-dreaded act of ‘showrooming’ – when customers come into a store to research products they end up buying online. Showrooming customers are motivated by one thing: price. They could be swayed by superior service or loyalty to a brand, but their first instinct is to save a few dollars.
Webroomers aren’t as motivated by price, though they could be swayed to go to the store with the sale or better deal if other factors are absent. Other factors include convenience, certainty, and great service.
If, as in the example with Carol above, your retail location is more convenient for the customer to access than another retailer with a slightly lower price, she may choose your store instead. Certainty is about things like fit and size and quality as well as the product being in stock and not having to wait for a delivery. These are things that you can’t control as much. But the third factor, differentiated service, is something you can.
As mentioned in our article on learning from the retail renaissance, customers today are seeking out retail experiences. Customer service is core to a great retail experience. But, then, how do you create the kind of experience through customer service that will drive the webrooming customer into your store more often?
Here are seven ways to shift your customers from showrooming to webrooming:
Number One. Anticipate Their Needs
You may not know that Carol’s best friend has a fancy birthday party coming up, but you do know when seasons and sales are coming up.
December is definitely fancy party season, for instance. Whether you carry the outfits to help dress your clients for the parties or the gifts they will bring for the hosts, sending out a reminder email with personalized suggestions will not only be appreciated, but put you at the top of the list for these purchases.
Number Two. Create Demand
Perhaps Carol hadn’t even thought to buy a new outfit for the soiree? She was just going to wear that green dress from last season. She could do that, or she could be tempted to pick up something new because she received your latest personalized message or Lookbook from you with that gorgeous sparkly number.
Even when there aren’t any reasons to buy something new, getting products in front of your customers that you know they’ll love could create that demand.
Number Three. Be There When They Have Questions
One of the most popular features for sales associates on Salesfloor is Live Chat. The more you can be present on live chat for your customers, the more likely it is that they will come back time and time again to do their shopping.
Associates can load the Salesfloor application on their mobile phone and tablet and join the chat queue as often as possible to signal to their customers that they’re always there for them.
Number Four. Make an Appointment
It may sound pushy, but you’d be surprised at how few sales associates actually reach out to their customers to pro-actively schedule appointments to preview and plan for the upcoming season. This type of outreach is not only unique, but it’s also welcomed by many busy clients who schedule almost everything in their days.
Sending a quick message right before a busy shopping season or at the launch of a new line that says, “I’d love to set up an appointment to show you our new collection,” will help your clients feel looked after and special.
Number Five. Set Aside Picks Just for Them
In addition to offering a personal shopping appointment, make sure you also mention that you have picked out items that you think they would like (and include a description in the note) or send them a Lookbook (if you are on Salesfloor) of the items. Of course, you need to make certain that the items actually suit your customer’s taste and style, but making that extra effort tells them that this isn’t an impersonal mass email.
Number Six. Offer Up In-Store Incentives/Events
In the retail renaissance article, we mentioned that many of the popular retailers these days create events that incentivize customers to come into the store, even if they aren’t shopping for anything in particular, the event gives them a good excuse to swing by.
You can be as creative as you want with these events, but keep your clients’ interests in mind. Could you offer a seminar? A networking night? A book signing by an author popular with your clientele? Creating an ongoing series that would be of interest to your clientele would go far to building ongoing relationships.
Number Seven. Build Lasting Relationships
Speaking of building ongoing relationships, this is probably the most important point that underpins all of the above. The more personal touch points you have with your clients, the more loyalty they will feel towards you.
By reaching out on a regular basis and keeping track of all of your clients’ history and needs – something that Salesfloor helps you focus on – you build stronger and stronger relationships with each and every one of them.
Almost everyone is a webroomer nowadays, but if you want to drive those researching online back to you as many times as possible, you need to keep top of mind. Using platforms like Salesfloor and some creativity will help you do that.
So, thinking of the upcoming holiday season, how many of the above tips can you implement to drive those webroomers into your store?