Webrooming vs Showrooming: A Guide to Delivering the Best Customer Experience

webrooming vs showrooming

Two buzzwords that have recently surfaced in the world on online shopping and e-commerce are ‘webrooming’ and ‘showrooming’. Although relatively new terms, their use in customers making well-informed purchasing decision is significant; both practices are innovative ways used by retailers to enhance customer experience both online and offline. Webrooming refers to the act of researching products online prior to purchases, whereas showrooming involves visiting a physical store to view products before making a purchase online.

Both of these strategies present the opportunity for basket abandonment (a large disadvantage in retail), but also for omnichannel experience, which is a huge advantage, amongst others. Because of this, it’s important for retailers to understand the distinctions between them and adapt their strategies accordingly to provide the optimal customer experience.

In this article, we will cover the following:

What is webrooming?

webrooming vs showrooming

Webrooming is a shopping behaviour in which customers conduct online research on a product or service prior to making a purchase in a brick-and-mortar store. The process involves using various online resources, including social media platforms, product reviews, and comparison sites, to gather information about a particular item and make a more informed buying decision. This approach is particularly beneficial for high-ticket items, such as electronics, appliances, and furniture.

By researching online first, customers can make more informed decisions when they arrive at the physical store. Webrooming is growing in popularity among consumers as it can save time, help avoid disappointment, and ensure that the desired product is in stock and meets specific needs.

What is showrooming?

Showrooming is a shopping behaviour in which consumers visit a physical store to inspect products before making a purchase online. This practice has become more common with the growth of e-commerce and online shopping, particularly for widely available products like clothing and home goods. By examining the product in person, consumers can get a better sense of its quality, features, and suitability before making a purchase. However, they may then choose to buy the product online from a different retailer that offers better pricing, free shipping, or other incentives.

While showrooming can pose challenges for brick-and-mortar retailers who aim to provide a positive in-store experience (but also want to get that sale), it also presents opportunities for retailers who can create an omnichannel shopping experience that seamlessly integrates physical and digital channels to enhance the customer experience.

webrooming vs showrooming

What are the benefits and challenges of webrooming?

As with many omnichannel strategies, there are both benefits and drawbacks to using webrooming as a sales channel.


Informed decision making

Webrooming enables customers to compare prices, features, and reviews of products online before making any purchasing decisions, all from the comfort of a single place. In fact, according to GE Shopper Research Study, 81% of shoppers research their product online before purchasing. This shows the significance of online product comparison, as customers want to make sure they’re spending their money wisely – so why fight it?


Customers are able to research products from the convenience of their homes and devices; all they need is an internet connection and they’re good to go! This avoids them having to visit multiple stores, scouring for the same product which may be out of stock in the physical retail store. For example, a customer looking to buy a new pair of running shoes may want to research different styles and brands online, before ordering them to the store to try on.


Thanks to online data collection, webrooming allows retailers to offer personalised recommendations, promotions, and deals to their customers solely based off their search history. This, in turn, allows them to receive personalised discounts and promotions based on their purchasing history, which is much harder to track in bricks-and-mortar stores. According to an article by Retail Customer Experience, 84%, of online shoppers report that personalisation influences their purchases and even more, 88%, are more likely to continue shopping on a retailer website that offers a personalised experience. This means that by the time the customer visits the physical store, they know exactly what product suits them most.


Unavailability of products

Despite the abundance of available products online, a frustrating feature of webrooming is that the item the customer is interested in may not be available in-store. This can be particularly true if the consumer has already invested time and effort in researching the product online. According to Shopify, 55% of consumers want to browse products online and check what’s available in local stores. Retailers can address this challenge by providing accurate information on product availability in real-time or offering online purchase options for out-of-stock items.

Longer checkout time

Checkouts are fast online; as soon as the consumer moves to a store the search for a product or waiting time for the sales staff to retrieve it from the stockroom can be frustrating and time consuming. Particularly, the customer may feel as though they are wasting their time in-store and could have purchased the product more simply online. Retailers can address this challenge by ensuring that products are easily accessible in-store and by streamlining the checkout process to reduce waiting times.

What are the benefits and challenges of showrooming?

Just as with webrooming, there are also benefits and drawbacks to showrooming.


Physical interaction with products

One of the main benefits of showrooming is that the customer has the opportunity to physically interact with the product and see it for themselves. This can be particularly important for products such as clothing, furniture, or electronics, where tactile feedback can be essential to making an informed purchasing decision. In fact, according to an article by Internet Retailing, 82% of consumers want to view-and-feel products in-store before purchasing online.

Reduce the need for store space

Targeted more towards retailers as opposed to customers, showrooming removes the need to display every product in the catalogue, therefore simplifying consumer choices. Not only does this reduce the amount of store space required for a retailer, but also money spent on rent and overhead costs.

Customer data insights

Through showrooming, customers can visit and interact with retailers, giving them valuable information that helps them better understand their audience. The data retailers can collect includes customer profile, time spent in-store, purchasing patterns, and the questions asked.

“Brands should think of [showrooming] as opening a new channel for consumers to share their preferences—a strong and valuable signal that should be processed along with other consumer information to inform targeting.” – Shopify.


Price comparison

One of the biggest challenges of showrooming is that customers can easily compare prices across multiple retailers. In fact, according to an article by Charged Retail, 54% of shoppers are using their mobiles to compare prices. In addition, 88% say that special offers and promotions are important purchase drivers. This can often put pressure on physical retailers to offer competitive pricing or risk losing sales to online competitors.

In-store experience

According to a survey by EngageWare, 85% of consumers said that they still prefer to shop in physical stores because they like to see and touch products before making a purchase. However, if customers are simply using the physical store as a showroom and then making their purchases online, retailers may struggle to provide a compelling reason for customers to visit their stores in the first place.

Lose sales to competitors

As much as competitive prices and discounts are attractive to customers, they also want unique experiences and relationships. For example, one way that retailers can differentiate themselves from online competitors is by offering expert advice and product demonstrations in-store. By providing customers with personalised recommendations and in-depth product knowledge, retailers can create a more engaging and informative shopping experience that cannot be replicated online.

Basket abandonment and O2O experiences in webrooming and showrooming

Webrooming and showrooming increases the chances of basket abandonment, but also the opportunity for O2O, or online to offline, experiences. Here’s how.

Basket abandonment

The webrooming approach may lead to customers adding items to their online shopping cart with the intention of completing the purchase in-person. However, various factors may thwart this plan, such as discovering that the in-store price is higher than the online price or the product being out of stock. In such cases, customers may abandon their baskets and leave the store without making a purchase.

Showrooming, on the other hand, entails visiting a physical store to inspect products before buying them online. While this behaviour may seem beneficial to retailers, it could also increase the likelihood of basket abandonment. If customers fail to find the product they want at a suitable price or encounter any challenges during the online checkout process, such as a lengthy payment process, unexpected shipping fees, or payment processing issues, they may abandon their baskets without completing the purchase.

In both cases, basket abandonment is often the result of a mismatch between the customer’s expectations and the actual purchase process.

Find out more about basket abandonment, and what e-commerce can learn from online retail.

O2O experience

The online-to-offline (O2O) strategy involves using digital marketing techniques to drive sales in physical stores. This approach can be particularly beneficial for retailers looking to attract customers who prefer to research products online before making an in-store purchase. There are two key O2O strategies that can be employed in this context.

In the case of webrooming, retailers can use O2O strategies to direct online traffic to their website or mobile app, where customers can browse and research products before visiting the physical store to make the purchase. This can increase foot traffic in stores, improve conversion rates, and enhance customer satisfaction.

With showrooming, retailers can use O2O strategies to create a seamless omnichannel experience for customers, enabling them to view products in-store and then buy them online. This can help retailers capture sales that may otherwise have been lost to online competitors, while still offering the benefits of a physical store experience.

Learn more about how the O2O strategy is the future of retail.

How live one-to-one video shopping is the best of both worlds 

Live one-to-one video shopping platform Confer With combines elements of both webrooming and showrooming to create a unique and engaging shopping experience for customers.

webrooming vs showrooming

Personalised assistance 

Similar to what customers achieve in a showroom setting, they can interact with sales associates to receive personalised product recommendations, styling advice, and answers to any questions they may have. However, live one-to-one video shopping also combines the ease and convenience of webrooming, as customers can receive this assistance from the comfort of their own homes.

Find out more about how live video commerce replicates the in-store shopping experience.

Real-time interaction

Another feature of live one-to-one video shopping that is characteristic of showrooming is the ability for customers and retailers to have real-time interactions, which is not a common feature in regular e-commerce. Here, customers can see products up close, ask questions, and receive immediate feedback, providing them with a better sense of the product than they would get from a static image or description on a website.

Watch a live one-to-one video shopping demonstration on the Confer With platform.

Convenience and flexibility

Live one-to-one video shopping also offers the same convenience and flexibility as webrooming. Customers can initiate a call and shop online from anywhere and at any time, which is particularly appealing to those who may not have access to physical stores or who prefer to shop outside of regular store hours.

Increased customer satisfaction

As a result of leveraging the benefits of live one-to-one video shopping, brands and retailers can expect to see an increase in their NPS scores. As regular e-commerce NPS scores sit around 45, the personal assistance, real-time interaction, convenience, and flexibility of the solution sees these skyrocket to an excellent benchmark of 80.

Find out more about how businesses can improve their NPS score in retail with live video shopping.

Key Takeaways

  • Webrooming refers to researching products online prior to purchases
  • Showrooming involves visiting a physical store to view products before making a purchase online
  • Live one-to-one video shopping merges the benefits of both webrooming and showrooming to deliver the best customer experience

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