BOSTON: Bricks-and-mortar retailers should be more concerned with exploiting the opportunities offered by "webrooming" than fearing the impact of showrooming a payment technology company has claimed.

Merchant Warehouse reviewed the data on "webrooming" – the practice of browsing online and then shopping in store – and pointed out that while close to 50% of consumers had showroomed, or purchased an item online after browsing for the item in a store, nearly 66% had done the reverse.

There were varying motivations for webrooming but many could be easily addressed by physical retailers, said Merchant Warehouse.

So, for example, 47% of consumers wanted to avoid shipping costs, 23% didn't want to wait for delivery of the items, and 42% wanted to check product availability. But providing online order forms, allowing in-store pick-up and including product descriptions and availability met these concerns.

Further, said Merchant Warehouse, offering savings or coupons to consumers who browsed the website but made in-store purchases could expand the actual customer base as well. Other advice included the provision of alerts regarding last-chance purchases and inventory restock.

Webroomers were also keen to experience stress-free shopping. Some 37% preferred to look online before shopping in store because they found it easier to return a product to the actual store. Almost half (46%) liked to feel or see an item before making a purchase, while a third (36%) said it was important to them to be able to pay online prices for store-bought products.

Again, there were simple ways for bricks-and-mortar retailers to capitalise on these preferences, by offering hassle-free returns for any online or store purchase and offering free wi-fi so customers can research costs in store.

Product testing and authoritative advice to help customers find the best items were other possibilities.

Merchant Warehouse also noted that it was a simple matter to adapt some in-store features for the webrooming population – by providing an up-to-date summary of internet reviews, for example, to entice those who research products before buying. "This includes 85% of modern-day shoppers, so making the small effort can pay off," it said.

Data sourced from PR Newswire, Merchant Warehouse; additional content by Warc staff