Are you a Showroomer or a Webroomer?

by J. Money -

store open sign

Heard these terms the other day and had no idea they were “a thing!”

Showrooming: when you visit a store to check out a product, but then go home and purchase it online.

Webrooming: when you research products online first, and then go to the store to check it out/purchase.

Real quick without thinking too much – which do you fall into most?

For BIG items (cars/houses/etc) I’m 100% a Webroomer as I like to research up front and then come touch and play/buy, but on smaller things like books or kitchen stuff I’m much more of a Showroomer. Not that I have that much time to go shopping anyways these days as a stay-at-home father ;) (I did visit Target like 5x during my sabbatical though, and WOW is it much more calmer than on weekends! Motivation enough to retire early right there! Haha…)

I also find Showrooming is great if you *collect things* too – like rare coins or antiques, etc. Most times you never even knew the item existed before seeing it in a shop, and even if you did you still need time to research and see what a fair deal is before scooping it up. Places like Ebay and the like make this super easy these days, and then you can also see how common or not the item actually is. Oftentimes you don’t even have a choice if the shop is the only place selling the item!

Here are some other tricks I do when shopping on Ebay/Craigslist/etc:

I search misspelled words. So many people are quick to post stuff up and forget to double check the listing before publishing, and while it doesn’t happen all too often, when you do come across something you want w/ misspellings in it, you can typically pick it up on the cheap. Because no one else knows it’s there to compete with you! ;)

I look for items that are miscategorized. Similar to misspellings, if you can find an item in the *wrong category* it can help you score a much better deal on it as well. This one takes a bit more time and yields far fewer results, but when you do get lucky you really get lucky! I once picked up a rare $150 coin book for literally only 19 cents! Because it was tagged improperly!

I pay attention to really crappy pictures/write-ups. This is actually counterintuitive because you’re so used to ignoring ugly listings, but because everyone else is doing that too it means less eyes are actually focused on potential good stuff! It’s not always that the item sucks or someone is trying to cover it up – it can also be that the lister just isn’t as good with technology/cameras as we are. So I’ll always scan them along with other listings, just in case there’s a diamond in the rough.

(This is especially so when looking for a new home – the places with glamorous photos showing perfectly cleaned homes will always attract the most attention, while the ones with blurry/dark pics and cluttered homes will not. Giving you even more bargaining ammunition if you end up falling in love with the property in person and decide to make an offer!)

Lastly, I have a “under $20” rule, which mainly applies to anything I buy really… If I find something I REALLY want and it costs less than $20, I allow myself to pick it up without harassing myself too much. It maybe only happens once or twice a month (again – not much time to shop with kids!), but I find it’s a nice clear cut way to “live a little” within reason, as well as to keep my sanity better in check.

Anyways, just a few tips in case they help :)

Back to the original question – I’d say I’m a healthy mix of both Webroomer and Showroomer, but I’m even MORE SO an Internetroomer, haha… A person who mainly buys *and* researches everything online ;) (Hey – if they can make up words, so can I!)

And here’s one for those of you who prefer only to buy/search in stores too: Brickandmortars. Formerly known as “every shopper in the world” pre-internet ;)

So which fits YOU the best? Any shopping hacks you’d like to share with us?

Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate January 23, 2019 at 6:20 am

All three of my apartments, as in three homes in a row, were bought after viewing the ugliest photos on the clunkiest of agents websites.

Note to sellers: put the toilet seat down, open the curtains, do the dishes, and pick up your dirty sock lying next to the hamper!

It never ceases to amaze me how people can’t see beyond a crappy photo when making what is usually the BIGGEST PURCHASE OF THEIR LIFE TO DATE.

Conversely, I’ve sold all my ex-homes at a pretty good profit and have always “styled” the photos and put a load of fresh cut flowers around when holding viewings.

PS: I’m an Off Season Showrooming. Some sunglasses arrived in the post just arrived minutes ago. I tried them on in sunny Australia a few weeks ago, took note of the code, and bought them online and on sale in freezing cold England!

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2 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:36 am

Haha… Good point on how these hacks have the *opposite* effects too when you’re listing stuff as the SELLER! It always pays to spend the additional 20 or 30 mins prettying things up, particularly with big ticket items!! Thanks for sharing this.

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3 Michael Saves January 23, 2019 at 6:32 am

I remember writing about showrooming five years ago and was absolutely destroyed in the comments section! People were so upset that I would go to a store to look at a product and then go home to buy it cheaper online. Now, it seems like everyone does this type of comparison shopping because some traditional retailers have failed to evolve in the Amazon era.

Like you, I’m a showroomer for smaller purchases like clothes. I will go to a store like the Gap to try on clothes and then purchase online from Gap.com when the item goes on sale.

I would put myself in the webrooming category for some electronics purchases. I read the reviews online and then go to a store like Best Buy because I don’t always trust that those fragile items will be delivered intact. If I know I’m going to buy the product, I will buy online and pick it up at the store. You can get extra discounts for this and still use cash back sites like Topcashback and Ebates.

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4 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:43 am

That’s a great way to do it too – harnessing both *online* and *physical* for max benefits. And you’d get less hate since it’s all coming from the same store too ;) (But really if you’re a business and don’t have an online presence you’re already putting yourself into a hard position. It’s only going to get worse as technology keeps evolving!)

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5 Nate January 23, 2019 at 8:39 am

I’m a tall dude, so I buy almost all my clothes online since stores don’t carry tall sizes very often. For that I research and buy everything online from stores that have brick-and-mortar locations near me. I order enough to get free shipping, then return what I don’t like in person or what doesn’t fit right to the store. Not sure what that method would be called.

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6 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:46 am

I think that’s called “making the best out of a situation” with a little “Thanks mom and dad for the genes!” mixed in ;)

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7 MK January 23, 2019 at 8:47 am

I am definitely a webroomer. I research literally everything online & then go out & do my touchy-feely trip for big ticket items. It’s way too easy to get blinded by the slick look & fancy features in the showroom.

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8 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:47 am

Haha agreed… And the stores have already done the years of research to try and get you to pony up on the spot too!! So it’s only fair that we get a chance to poke around first :)

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9 Millionaire Mob January 23, 2019 at 10:22 am

Showroomer for sure. It will literally haunt me for years if I don’t find the very best deal for something.

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10 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:48 am

Remind me to never go shopping with you :)

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11 Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life January 23, 2019 at 10:57 am

Internetter! I buy almost everything online with the exception that if I’ve done my research online already and am in a local store where the price difference isn’t drastic, then I will buy from the store even if it costs more because we have to support the local economy. These are our neighbors and our local tax base, right?

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12 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:49 am

I can get down with that :)

I much prefer to do stuff IN REAL LIFE when possible too, and I’m sure the stores love having these real life people walk into them! Whether they’re buying or not!

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13 Kim January 23, 2019 at 10:59 am

I try to be a webroomer and support the local economy as much as I can, but there are definitely some things I buy online due to convenience (hard to fit that Christmas shopping into 65-hour workweeks!). Or if there’s a huge price differential I can’t justify…I’ll spend a few extra bucks in a store, but I’m not going to pay double.

I try really hard to be a brickandmortarer with books. Gotta use those local bookstores before we lose them! (Although most books I just get from the library, haha…interlibrary loans are the best discount. :) ) Of course, I worked at borders for three years as they went under, so I’m biased. We also have great local bookstores. I know in a lot of parts of the country, that’s sadly not the case.

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14 J. Money January 23, 2019 at 11:54 am

YESSS TO SUPPORTING BOOK STORES!!!! All of them really as they’re def. a dying breed :( A solid 80% of my book purchases come from local book stores, mainly because I love me some *used* ones, and particularly the ones that are rarer to find. So basically, Rare Book Stores for the win.

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15 Nita January 23, 2019 at 12:59 pm

Really depends on the item.

I used to be more of an online buyer but as I’m trying zero waste I’m cutting back. Ordering one item at a time generates a LOT of packaging garbage. Turned out, btw, I spent less on useless impulse buying.

I’m a big showroomer for electronics and appliances. For the rest, not nearly as much.

Books – tending toward webroomer. I’d rather buy books in a store, on principle (plus, no packaging). Here, by law, retailers can’t reduce the set price of a book more than 5% so it’s basically the same price everywhere including local Amazon.

Clothes – both. in bulk online for T-shirts, jeans and all simple things, and at least showrooming for more elaborate/adjusted ones.

Finally, internetroomer on non-perishable groceries – buying in bulk online boring things like cat food, cat litter, toilet paper… one big delivery every three months, less boredom and sometimes nice savings.

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16 J. Money January 25, 2019 at 7:00 am

Good point on the Zero Waste stuff!!

Do you ever read Bea Johnson’s stuff?? She inspired the crap out of me a few years ago and even got me into composting (!). Here are some articles I wrote about it, but needed this reminder to get back to paying attention again – so thank you. We DO waste so much incessantly using Amazon!!

http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/zero-waste-lifestyle/
http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/5-rs-no-wasting-money/

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17 Eric @ Flip n Finances January 24, 2019 at 9:04 pm

I’m definitely an “InternetRoomer” haha. All those darn millenials ;)

Amazon Subscribe and Save for the win! I love using subscribe and save and getting that 15% off already low prices.

I even order Nutella through subscribe and save. 12 jars every 4 months :P

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18 J. Money January 25, 2019 at 7:01 am

Wow that’s a lot, haha… I actually read the other day that Nutella was one of the most *stolen* items at food stores! So strange, right?

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19 Chris @ Mindful Explorer January 28, 2019 at 1:41 pm

As a retail store owner in a small little local town (and in the process of closing one also) I have seen first hand the massive effect of online shopping of products. Over the years we had to continualy change the products we sold and what is best to not compete with online. The funny thing that we compete with most though, we compete with the brands themselves that sell direct from their own websites. So they are getting us as retailers to buy from them while they are selling direct to customers as well.

As for the comments here, I was pleasantly surprised so far to see people that see the value in shopping local and extremely pleased to see the mindfulness of the waste and carbon footprint of shopping online regularly for single items.

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20 J. Money January 28, 2019 at 2:45 pm

Interesting to hear your take on it as a mall biz owner :) Is the reason you’re shutting down the other one due to the massive rise of internet sales? Does it make sense for you to sell online as well as physically or not really if you’re re-selling other brands anyways?

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