It’s that time of year again. As the holiday shopping season winds down, many shoppers will scramble to find the perfect gift for friends and family. Waiting until the last minute to buy presents has become an unofficial holiday tradition for many. Online shopping and guarantees to “deliver before Christmas” seem to have enabled procrastinators to wait even longer to begin their holiday shopping. However, recent surveys of shoppers have found some surprising information about how shoppers use the online marketplace and where they make their purchases.
Many shoppers search for products online and browse sites like Amazon.com, only to make their eventual purchase in-store. This new phenomenon is called “webrooming”, and according to the Accenture Seamless Retail Study, it is catching on. Accenture found that 88% of survey participants “webroomed” during the previous 6-month period. So, what is motivating shoppers to browse online, then buy in-store?
Online shopping allows consumers to easily compare similar products sold at different stores and price points. In addition to finding the best value and price online, shoppers can read customer reviews to learn more about the user experience. For certain purchases, customer reviews can be the deciding factor between two similar products. However, rather than clicking the “BUY NOW!” button, many shoppers still want to see the product for themselves. They want to scrutinize it in-person, whether that means playing with the latest gadget or trying on a pair of shoes. Additionally, they may want to experience the in-store ambiance or interact with knowledgeable sales staff before going to the cash register.
Thanks to the amount of information available online, today’s consumer has more product information available to them than ever before. As long as prices stay competitive between online merchants and brick-and-mortar stores, many shoppers will do their homework online, but make their purchases in-store.