These shopping habits are called showrooming and webrooming, respectively. Showrooming refers to when shoppers use physical retail as a product showroom to test and research products before purchasing them online. Alternatively, webrooming is the practice of researching products online before purchasing them at physical retail. Brands that can enhance and leverage the showrooming and webrooming process can build a better shopping experience for their consumers and create an uninterrupted path to purchase.
Showrooming (In-store Research and Online Sales)
Consumers have moved online for the bulk of their shopping,  however, most consumers still prefer the bricks and mortar retail environment to experience a product first hand.  Over 82% of shoppers are referencing their smartphones while in store,  often completing their purchase online where they find lower prices, better product availability, and convenience.
Even big-ticket items that were considered the sole domain of physical retail are now being purchased through ecommerce. 30% of survey respondents stated they would purchase a car online, 62% would purchase furniture, and 52% said they would purchase groceries through digital channels.  This shift makes it increasingly important to employ a showrooming strategy across even the most obscure product categories.
Effective Ways to Showroom
Retarget: Retargeting allows brands to advertise to consumers who have previously expressed some type of interest in their products, usually through a company’s website, app, or elsewhere on the Internet. Retargeting can be highly effective in converting interest into sales. Brands can bring this concept in-store through providing opportunities for consumers to sign-up for online mailing lists, competitions, and other online brand promotions.
Encourage Social Media Engagement: Brands can build their online presence by incenting shoppers to pose with products and product displays and upload these pictures to social media. Brands can also engage social media influencers to post product reviews and write about their shopping experience to help build credibility and motivate consumers to purchase online.
Webrooming (Online Research and In-Store Sales)
On the other side of the shopping spectrum, many consumers research products online, before going to a physical store to make the actual purchase. In fact, in a recent report, 82% of surveyed Millennials, indicated a preference for shopping in physical retail versus online, with 68% demanding an integrated and seamless shopping experience across channels.  Shopping in-store allows consumers to make a final trial of the product, avoid shipping costs, and achieve instant gratification.
This practice is especially prevalent over the holiday season when consumers are seeking fast and convenient ways to check everything off their shopping list. Consumers actively seek out physical store locations from their digital devices, with mobile searches for “where to buy” growing over 85% in the past two years.  Brands that can create an immersive brand experience when consumers arrive at retail are in a better position to drive purchase.
Effective Ways to Webroom
Augmented Reality: Augmented Reality allows brands to bring the digital environment to physical retail. AR solutions on retail signage or product packaging can provide consumers entertainment, additional product information, and convenience to incent purchase. In fact, 71% of people surveyed stated they would shop at a retailer more often if they offered AR, and 61% of shoppers said that AR has influenced where they shop. 
Consistent Pricing: In-store products should be priced identically to the ones offered online. Alternatively, brands can institute a price-matching mechanism to ensure consumers are motivated to make an immediate purchase at retail.
In-store pick ups and returns: Consumers do not differentiate between a brand’s online and offline businesses. Brands should offer consumers the convenience of picking up and returning online orders directly to stores.
With time-starved consumers expecting simple and convenient retail solutions, brands that can create seamless transitions between their online platforms and bricks and mortar locations can better serve their customers. Today’s consumers employ a variety of platforms to browse and buy products, utilizing both showrooming and webrooming in the process of shopping. The most effective brands will maximize the opportunities that arise from these two behaviours to meet consumers where they are already shopping.