Omnichannel has become more prominent lately in global retail. With consumers increasingly using mobile devices for shopping both in-store and at home, while also seeking a seamless shopping experience whether they buy from a retailer’s brick-and-mortar store, online shop or mobile app, the boundaries between various retail channels become less defined. The two most prominent phenomena that manifest the onset of omnichannel are webrooming and showrooming.
Webrooming is said to take place when consumers check products online and then purchase them in-store, while showrooming means the opposite, i.e. consumers do their research in-store and then complete the purchase online. In advanced B2C E-Commerce markets, such as the USA, Germany and Japan, around a quarter of consumers engage in webrooming, while showrooming is significantly less widespread. Surveys show that in emerging markets where consumers are generally more price-sensitive, webrooming rates are even higher. In Southeast Asian markets Malaysia and Philippines, over one-half of the surveyed consumers have engaged in the practice.
Improvement of omnichannel capabilities could help online retail develop in emerging markets such as these. In Thailand, over a third of Internet users who do not shop online state inability to see goods as the reason. Other discouraging factors include fear of being deceived and having difficulties with ordering goods over the Internet. Some of these problems could be solved through omnichannel, so that shoppers can see and touch the products in-store, try them on and then get assistance in ordering them directly online if they wish to. Such experiences can then encourage pure online shopping, once consumers get more confident about buying over the Internet. Online clothing retailer Zalora utilized this technique in Southeast Asia, having opened two pop-up stores in Singapore and the Philippines. It was the first pure player in the region to do so, but others might follow once the benefits of omnichannel are comprehended.
More insights into the omnichannel can be found in our report “Omnichannel Trend in Global B2C E-Commerce and General Retail 2015”, while a thorough review of Southeast Asian markets can be found in the recently published “Southeast Asia B2C E-Commerce Market 2015”.