The New Retail: Showrooming, Webrooming

Do you shop for products in stores, then buy them online at a discount? Conversely, do you use online browsing to find products, then go to stores to buy them? If you do either of these things, the retail industry has a name for you.

According to pollster Harris, the practice of Showrooming (browsing in stores then buying online) and Webrooming, (shopping online, then buying in stores) have both become widespread among Americans.

Harris said that showrooming is up this year – it is now practiced by 49% of those polled — versus 2013 (46%), and 2012 (43%).

Nearly seven in ten Americans (69%) are Webrooming this year, which is about the same as the 2013 reading. About half (51%) of Americans polled told Harris that they use one or the other of these shopping tactics.

So, should retailers be upset by this?

Looking at the numbers, it seems that the brick-and-mortar retailers have a lot less to complain about than online retailers do. At the same time, having lots of tire-kickers browsing online stores isn’t really as much of an issue for those retailers as an equivalent “real world” practice is for stores. Online retailers don’t have to validate parking, after all.

For most store owners – real and virtual – Showrooming and Webrooming are simply facts of retail life that one must accept, and get used to.


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