“Showrooming” and “webrooming” are changing how people experience fashion: this is how your business should catch up

Fashion is one of the hottest retail sectors, with lots of hype and…money. But it’s changing and retailers need to know how change with it.

With over £57bn in spending in 2015 and a growth rate of 12.89% through 2020, retailers would be wise to keep a watchful eye on this sector. Especially when shopping behaviour is dramatically changing.

In this post, we’ll be explaining how people experience fashion is changing, why it’s moving in that direction, and what retailers can do to conquer customer loyalty. Let’s start by giving sense to some buzzwords retailers must know in 2017. Scroll down.

Showrooming vs. webrooming: what retailers need to know

Showrooming is the practice of visiting a shop in order to examine a product only to later complete the purchase online at a lower price. So, essentially, stores work as products showrooms for online shoppers.

Showrooming is made for the ultimate “deal seekers.” These millennials demand maximum convenience at the lowest price, based on peer reviews and information they find online. But while finding a better deal online remains the most important trigger in their buying cycle, they do appreciate a tactile experience too. They first go to the store, have a conversation with a salesperson, feel the material, try it on for size, and then go back to their screens to purchase it at the lowest possible price. And most of the time, they do find more appealing prices online, as real-estate markups almost always inflate in-store price tags.

A 2014 research study from EE stated:

44% of consumers — more than 20 million Britons — now visit a physical store while browsing products online in the hope of finding a better deal”.

This is obviously a significant trend in the UK, especially considering that, according to research firm TNS, “one third of consumers around the world admit to the tactic”. As showrooming grew to the advantage of online players, in-store retailers fought back and flipped showrooming on its head, creating what we now call “webrooming.”

Webrooming is when consumers research what to buy online and then head to the brick-and-mortars to buy the goods.

In-store players are able to play on tactics such as in-store Wi-Fi, exclusive in-store discounts, click & collect of online orders to drive people away from their screens and back into stores. Over time, in-store and online prices came to match. As a matter of fact, a 2016 research says that:

49% of millennials webroom when shopping apparel items.

So what does this all mean? Well, it just means that both trends exist and are equally as strong and retailers can no longer turn a blind eye to this trend. Regardless of whether your customers showroom or webroom, you must offer both offline and online (mobile, web, social) fashion experiences, what is called omni-channel retailing. If you are a fashion retailer hoping to retain your piece of the pie, you better answer the omni-channel call, knowing that:

84% of shoppers check Amazon before shopping elsewhere!

Webrooming and showrooming only prove that brick-and-mortar retailers are still relevant. People still want the tactile, tangible, and personal in-store experience along with the option of either browsing or buying online. So you can survive Amazon; customers will still buy in your store or on your website, because we’re going to give you exactly what you need to win your customers’ loyalty. Read on.

Winning omni-channel strategies: feel free to copy and paste this

For big brands, it’s easy to throw down the necessary resources to catch up with online trends and ever-changing customer demand. It’s a little more challenging however for local businesses to keep up with change. But smaller independent retailers can still be successful, if they act smart and fast. Here’s what to do:

In-store: invest to connect real-estate and digital

Real-estate is expensive, especially in prime commercial locations across London. Retailers need to make the most of their resources to guarantee a steady flow of walk-in customers and, more importantly, revenues. How?

Enhance your existing assets:

  • Go beyond traditional in-store experiences. Showrooming tells us that 50% of customers walk into a store only to look and feel the goods displayed. But what if they could enjoy a proper in-store, unexpected experience? Lululemon Athletica is using their stores to host yoga classes; Rebecca Minkoff and Ralph Lauren are using technology to give customers interactive experiences in fitting rooms. Urban Outfitters launched a five-levels concept store, hosting a vintage marketplace, a bar, a restaurant and rotating pop-ups to create an innovative shopping experience. These are all great strategies to lock in both showroomers and webroomers.
  • Empower your store associates with custom tech. 78% of millennials’ purchases depend on online reviews. Wouldn’t it be great if your store associates could showcase product reviews, manufacturers notes, omni-channel stock right from a tablet? Tulip Retail is an app for store associates that does exactly that, engaging with in-store customers through winning storytelling. And what if store associates were able to connect with customers even after leaving the store, offering a personalised version of your website, custom recommendations and live chat? All this can be achieved with apps like Salesfloor. Again, these are must-have tools for charming both showroomers and webroomers, as you effectively merge the offline experience with digital convenience together.

Online: be close to your customers, and reach them fast

Having an online presence isn’t about simply having an e-commerce website anymore. People expect to engage with brands through different channels and once they click buy at the checkout, they want to have their goods delivered and in hand ASAP.

  • Be where your customers want you to be. Millennials want you to have a website, a mobile app that (ideally) offers discounts for downloading it (again, convenience and deals are key) and, of course, social media pages with an integrated shopping function (Facebook & Instagram mainly; Youtube works with younger audiences). If you are a small business and can’t afford to set up some of these channels, there are mobile platforms that help you build a digital storefront and connect you with customers online, without investing upfront. And they also provide you with an integrated, one-hour delivery service. Yes, because once you set up your online channels, you have to think about fulfilment. Scroll down.
Quiqup connects retailers with their customers, through a digital storefront and a one-hour delivery service.
  • Deploy a ship-from-store delivery model. When setting up your online model, think carefully about the stocking and fulfilment model you choose. As we mentioned already, you don’t need to invest in large expensive warehouses outside the city to fulfil your online orders. Your customers are on the high street, therefore you are better off using your high street stores as inventory hubs for online orders; it will save you money and maximise reach and revenues. Store associates can then act as store pickers, using Tulip or Salesfloor to organise deliveries for showroomers right from your store. If you want to have an edge on competitors, make sure you deliver on-demand; millennials hate to wait.

We hope you that enjoyed our analysis on how technology is disrupting fashion, and retail (more here). If you think we missed something important, please do hit us up with a request.

Wait for us; we’ll be back.

Matteo, Marketing Executive

Interested in finding out more about how Quiqup helps retailers catching up with the latest trends in fashion?

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