ROPO is an acronym for Research online purchase offline,which literally means ‘online search buy offline’. It refers to the process that some consumers follow and that consists of obtaining on the Internet all the required information about a product before buying it in a physical establishment. It is, therefore, a mixed action that affects digital marketing and traditional marketing, and that is usually common in sectors such as retail.
With this practice, the consumer takes advantage of the resources offered by the internet to move to the store with the purchase practically decided. For this reason, it is necessary to accompany you throughout the customer journey with a careful digital marketing strategy that includes videos and images, reviews, discounts to encourage the visit to the physical establishment and a blog with valuable content. In the physical headquarters, the decoration, service or packaging must be taken care of so that the client does not back down and complete the purchase. It is the usual process in businesses with omnichannel or multichannel.
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ROPO and showrooming
In the era of smartphones and the digitalization of everyday life, the ROPO coexists with another trend, showrooming.
It consists of just the opposite, in deciding a purchase in the physical store to end up consuming online, almost always motivated by the price. Both practices cause discomfort in entrepreneurs who suffer from it, although the solution would be to offer other advantages, better service or competitive prices.
To make a business visible and avoid as much as possible the ROPO and showrooming requires a good SEO and SEM strategy that ensures the correct positioning of your website, even if it does not have online sales. If a business doesn’t show up in the first search results, it’s invisible and so is your physical store.
Advantages of ROPO
Although ecommerce continues to grow steadily in Spain (it exceeded 40,000 million euros in 2018), there is still a large group of consumers who opt for traditional shopping or a mixed system, such as ROPO or showrooming. According to a survey conducted by the international professional services agency KPMG, the main reasons why a customer prefers to complete a transaction in a physical store are the following:
- Be able to touch or see the products and try them on (in case they are tangible items).
- The ability to better appreciate the characteristics of the products.
- They consider that shipping takes too long and costs too much
- It is too valuable a product to buy on the internet. E.g.: a car or jewelry.
- He simply likes to go shopping.
- You want to be cared for by a dependent (although this is the least important reason, according to the survey).
To these factors we could add other advantages that the ROPO effect entails for the consumer,such as the following:
- The possibility to consult how and where you want an ecommerce thanks to the smartphone.
- To be able to make your choice with freedom and a certain intimacy.
- It is an ideal method for those who still do not trust online payment.
As we have mentioned, ropo can be very harmful for an ecommerce, but it also has some advantages for multichannel businesses:
- To be able to retain a customer with access to exclusive products, discounts, app, etc.
- Digital marketing tools allow you to tempt the consumer with other products with cross selling and up selling strategies.
Disadvantages of ROPO
The ROPO also has some drawbacks for the buyer who chooses this practice, even though he does it voluntarily:
- There is a possibility that when you arrive at the store the product or service is out of stock.
- The chosen product may not fit your expectations, so the purchase process would be incomplete.
However, the entrepreneur is the one who is most harmed by this system of looking online to buy offline. Some of the disadvantages it encounters are:
- It is very complicated to reliably track your digital marketing actions, since the main conversion, which would be the purchase, is difficult to quantify.
- The entrepreneur is obliged to make a double investment in the two scenarios of his business. Digitally, you should have an attractive and well-structured website, an email marketing strategy and databases. And offline, it is necessary to invest in premises, decoration, staff, etc.
- If you have an ecommerce, it is a danger to sales. To avoid this, it would be good to offer another series of advantages considering why customers opt for the ROPO effect. For example, making shipping costs added and even eliminating shipping costs or facilitating returns.