Have you heard of the ROPO effect also known as Research Online Purchase Offline? This approach is associated with the digital marketing strategy that links “web to shop” and “shop to web”. It should not be underestimated because ROPO modifies the purchase path of Internet users. To integrate this technique effectively, companies should adapt their digital strategy to run in parallel with their in-store merchandising strategy. ROPO touches everyone today thanks to the democratization of the Internet. By conducting online research beforehand, the consumer will be able to gather a maximum of information from blogs, customer reviews, and online promotions as well as from price and product comparisons. In addition to the fact that this increased search for information reassures the Internet user, it is especially used to give the Internet user the impression of making an intelligent purchase decision that specifically meets their needs.
In this article, our experts’ will uncover the best tactics to use to successfully integrate the ROPO approach into your sales strategy.
What is ROPO?
The acronym ROPO stands for Research Online, Purchase Offline, which means the act of purchasing after the consumer has conducted research on the Internet and then made their purchase physically in a store. The products concerned by this type of purchase are most often cars, telephones, clothes, household appliances, and beauty products.
The reasons that push the consumer to opt for this approach can be multiple, such as:
- Need to verify the product before buying it
- Refusal to give personal information on the merchant site
- The customer does not want to wait to receive the item and prefers to go to a physical store to pick it up (Click and Collect)
- The customer does not want to pay the delivery fees
- The customer does not trust the security of the online purchase process or the confidentiality of the data provided
- The product requires adaptations, customizations, or special settings that can only be done in store
- The customer needs to see the product, touch it and test it before purchasing it
By integrating the ROPO effect into your marketing strategy, you will be able to consider all your sales channels as one interconnected channel. Your online store becomes an extension of your physical store and vice versa. Moreover, ROPO optimization allows you to measure the influence of the internet and the impact of your digital ads on your target consumer and their habits, to better set up and personalize your future marketing campaigns.
The ROPO effect can meet different needs:
- Impulse ROPO: This is the most frequent type of purchase. The consumer is looking to satisfy an immediate desire that we call an impulse buy. To meet this need, brands must work on the “desirability” of their products and build a communication based on seducing the consumer.
- The ROPO fixed idea: In this situation, the consumer has a precise idea of the product that they want and will be difficult to influence. The purpose of their online search is to check the availability of the product. The company must therefore provide this information and help them find the product they are looking for quickly.
- SOS ROPO: This is an emergency purchase: the Internet user is looking for a product that will fill an urgent need. For this type of ROPO, SEO plays a decisive role because the urgency means that the consumer will favor proximity and speed of access (e.g. local and convenient shops).
- ROPO experience: The consumer has little information about the product and wants to know more before making a decision. They need to test the product, make it their own, and make an informed decision before purchasing it.
- Reassurance ROPO: unlike experience ROPO, the consumer already has an idea of the product they wish to buy. They will look for information that will confirm their desire to buy, then go to the store to make the final purchase.
Why create a ROPO effect for a company?
A Google study has shown that the ROPO effect concerns a very large part of consumers. In France, for example, 61% of users conduct online research before buying in a store. In Switzerland, a Deloitte study revealed that 83% of consumers use digital devices (smartphones, iPads, computers, etc.) when shopping, whether they are at home, in the office, or a physical store.
Brands that consider the ROPO effect have a comprehensive view of their customers and their expectations thanks to the data collected via online searches. This allows them to manage their advertising budget more efficiently and identify the most relevant actions to take accordingly.
5 ways to measure the ROPO effect
To measure its effectiveness, it is necessary to perform a cyclical analysis. These are the first insights you will collect that will allow you to optimize and improve your marketing and digital actions. The analysis of your ROPO will help you to evaluate your online investments and their offline impact.
- GPS tracking
GPS tracking is the ideal way to measure the ROPO effect. You will be able to determine if your digital ads are influencing the traffic in your physical store. Using Google tools and GPS data, you can find out how many people saw an online ad and how many entered your store after viewing it.
- Soft conversions
Soft conversions allow you to estimate the impact of ROPO on your sales. To do this, place a button on your product page that allows the visitor to check the location of your store and the availability of the product. If the visitor clicks on it, consider it as a soft conversion because you can qualify him as a potential prospect, interested in your physical point of sale.
- Statistical analysis
You can compare the traffic of a product on your site to the number of in-store sales. For example, if you change your digital strategy to double the traffic on a given product and the number of in-store sales of that product increases, you can probably conclude that there is a correlation between increased views on that product and purchases made.
- Combine online and offline data
Customer information, such as email addresses, are extremely valuable for analyzing the ROPO effect. Use this data and the customer profile to generate information about previous steps in the customer’s journey and use the data to improve it accordingly. You can also link this data to digital channels on Google AdWords and Facebook as well as link your physical sales to ad clicks.
- Field surveys
Surveys are an effective way to measure the ROPO effect in real-time. Ask checkout customers what prompted them to come into the store and purchase the product in question.
Tips for leveraging ROPO in your cross-channel strategy
- Work on your local online visibility by focusing on mobile
If you have one or more physical points of sale, it is essential to highlight them in your digital strategy on your website and via other online location services.
We recommend that you use tools like Store Locator. It allows you to facilitate access to your stores by listing the geographical locations of all your points of sale and, ideally, their geographical distance from your visitors.
Google My Business is an excellent tool that allows you to propose a detailed file containing information on the geolocation, opening hours, etc. of your points of sale. They are visible to everyone on Google Maps and Google search engines. Make sure to fill in your listing (name, description, opening hours, link to your website) to maximize your visibility on search engines.
- Adapt the message and the services according to the profile of the Internet users
Not all visitors who consult your website do so for the same reasons. The ideal is to adjust your messages according to the profile of each website visitor to accompany them effectively from digital to physical. This is why the ideal solution would be to create personas. These are fictitious people created from scratch who have the characteristics of your target audiences. In this way, the marketing strategy, the positioning of the product or service, the promotion, and the distribution will thus be adapted according to the persona. This will allow the target audience to have a more personalized experience and better identify with the product or service best suited to them.
- Establish a strong and lasting link between digital and physical
Chat is particularly effective to integrate digital and physical in a single purchase process since it allows you to establish a reassuring human relationship with your visitors before they go to see the product in your store.
Push notifications in the form of pop-ups, for example, can also be effective in attracting your digital visitors to your point of sale, when they promote physical operations. These notifications can be geolocalized for more profitability.
Creating landing pages on your website and digital channels dedicated to your physical events is also an effective practice to encourage your visitors to come and discover your products and brands in-store. Note that these pages can also help you collect user data to feed your databases and create personalized marketing actions.
You can also offer an online appointment booking feature from your website or Facebook page to convert your web visitors into customers. Then, thanks to the appointment history, you can offer them a personalized customer experience as you will have an overview of the services or purchases made.
Finally, Click And Collect facilitates the buying journey and smartly encourages your visitors to order online and then pick up their purchases directly in-store.
- Propose product comparisons to reassure visitors and face the competition
Make sure your product sheets are well filled out and detailed. Also rely on complementary content such as articles, customer testimonials, real photos and videos of the product in action, etc. This will allow you to feed your digital platforms with content and meet the needs of the most demanding ROPO profiles.
ROPO is an inevitable trend in modern retailing that today’s companies should strongly consider integrating into their strategy. It will ensure the link between their physical and digital channels and facilitate the shopping journey.