Forget Webrooming & Showrooming… It’s the Era of the Everywhere Consumer!
As we begin the second half of fiscal 2014, I sincerely hope we will see the demise of the terms “webrooming,” “showrooming” or any other term that seems to suggest that really smart people in retail are somehow absolutely gobsmacked that customers are whipping out their mobile devices in store while shopping. It’s the second half of 2014! 99.999% of all consumers are wired to their devices. It’s time to move beyond the surprise and into the adoption of current realities.
The fact is that consumers today consult their mobile phones for everything—from finding the best restaurants to determining the best time to break away from a movie in the theater to go to the restroom. Consumers are connected virtually 24/7 to social networks and email, never far away from sharing with friends, family and the broader world. So use of mobile phones within the four walls of a retail store should NOT hold shock value for anyone in retail even just one step above clueless.
As we pointed out in a press release today, these “rooming” terms are pretty much fluff. They make great headlines pointing to the continued demise of brick-and-mortar retail establishments, but ignore the realities and opportunities of today’s connected consumers.
It’s the era of the “Everywhere Consumer.” And retailers must adapt or die.
Consumers expect retailers to be everywhere they are at any point in time online, on-mobile or in-person. In turn, retailers must be willing and able to adopt the technologies, pricing and merchandising that match consumer desires to research and buy as they please, where they please and when they please. Consequently, they must adapt philosophies and practices that assume customers are going to shop online and in their stores based on needs, desires, timeframes and locations. They also need to move towards omni-pricing and easy omni-return strategies, and stop pitting “online vs. per-store” sales competitions. All in all, retailers should be working 24/7 to really understand who their customers are, how they shop, when they shop and what roles their online retail presence and their physical stores should play to best meet the needs and expectations of these Everywhere Consumers.
Physical retail shopping still represented over 90% of all purchases last year; over $ 4 trillion in sales revenue. Customers still enjoy and need the presence of physical retail stores, and smart brands are not only discovering ways to make the overall shopping experience for customers enjoyable, fun and memorable, but are also using innovative ways to embrace mobile and digital in the process without annoying or turning off today’s connected customers.
It’s time to forget the “rooming,” and start really understanding customers—how and why they shop in physical retail and where the disconnects are between your current practices and the needs of the Everywhere Consumer. We call these disconnects the Reality Gaps. And more and more, we see most of the gaps occurring on the side of the retailers and the brands selling in retail who continue to stand amazed at what customers are doing, rather than digging deeper to understand why and how to make things better.
Cartoon by Tom Fishburne