Online shopper

Webrooming: A New Dimension to Online Retail

Clothes, shoes, home goods and even groceries: buying online is faster, more convenient and sometimes less expensive. You know your sizes, favorite brands and trusted retailers. But how about buying jewelry online? Can you envision the weight, style or quality?

Online jewelry retailer Blue Nile is offering a solution with its “webrooming” concept, says Internet Retailer: small-footprint installations in high-traffic malls where shoppers can see products in person and purchase them on in-store tablets or at a later time from the convenience of their phone, tablet or computer.

The differences between their webroom and a traditional jewelry store? Blue Nile says reduced overhead costs, the non-commissioned consultants (read: lower pressure), and access to a vast selection of stones at online prices that undercut traditional jeweler markups.

Although webroom and its companion showroom have similar connotations, Retail Perceptions says webrooms are traditionally sites where users purchase products after online research, and showrooms are where shoppers can browse, touch and try out products before they make an online purchase. The numbers of customers engaging in this type of retail are high: 88 percent say they webroom, and 76 percent showroom.

Retail changes like this are yielding more shifts in industrial and retail real estate, as retailers shrink footprints and goods must be centrally-located in fulfillment centers to ensure rapid delivery. Omnichannel strategies – allowing shoppers to buy anywhere, receive goods in the most convenient way, and make easy returns – leads the way as retailers engage all channels and platforms to create a unified, superior customer experience.

Among these is Macy’s, which is expanding same-day delivery in some markets to complete with Amazon – poised to overtake Macy’s as the nation’s top clothing retailer by 2017.

Have you visited a webroom to look at online products in person? What new retail real estate trends are you seeing in your market? Share in the comments below.

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