How to Take Advantage of ROPO – Research Online, Purchase Offline

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How to Take Advantage of ROPO - Research Online, Purchase OfflineEvery day, the gap between ecommerce sales and brick and mortar sales grows smaller and smaller. As retail trends change, the customer experience rarely involves just one or the other. These different steps on the buyer’s journey happen in many different places, which has proven to be a challenge for retailers and other businesses to monitor and thoroughly understand.

Over half of all brick and mortar sales (56%) are influenced by online behavior and research. Retailers know that an online presence and a digital marketing strategy are key to boosting physical sales, but just how much influence do certain online strategies have on physical sales? How can retailers collect data that connects online behavior to specific product sales and use that data to make an effective marketing strategy?

Let’s start to answers these questions by going over the basics of ROPO.

What Is ROPO?

ROPO, a process that is also called “webrooming,” stands for Research Online, Purchase Offline. The term defines itself; consumers are conducting research on products online before they make the physical purchase in a physical location.

The ROPO process ties ecommerce and brick and mortar sales in a very close partnership. A majority of consumers research products online through a laptop or mobile device before they make a purchase, but did you know:

  • 38% of consumers have used mobile devices on the way to a brick and mortar location to check if a product was in stock
  • 34% of consumers have conducted research on products while in the physical store.

The buyer’s journey doesn’t just take place in the digital and the real world – sometimes, it takes place in both at the same time.

The Evolution of ROPO

The opposite process (browsing through physical products only to make the purchasing decision later online) has been a hack for consumers who want to get the look and feel of a product and then get the best deal online. As opposed to “webrooming,” this process is called “showrooming.”

Now that content creation allows users to experience a product through innovations like VR, AR, and high-quality video content, more decisions can be made without physically seeing a product. Showrooming is still popular among products that consumers prefer to experience in a store, including apparel.  

Whether or not customers webroom or showroom may depend on the products themselves. Customers are more likely to buy items like groceries, appliances, and health and beauty items in-store, while leaving computers, electronics, and mobile phone purchases online.

Quick Statistics: Why Do Consumers ROPO?

  • 75% of consumers believe they could find the lowest price in-store. High shipping costs is one of the top reasons that customers will abandon an online shopping cart.
  • 56% of consumers prefer to touch and feel a product before they buy.
  • 41% of consumers are worried about how the product is advertised or represented online.
  • Research shows that men aged 18-24 are more likely to webroom; 54% of men in that demographic have admitted to conducting online research before making a physical purchase.
  • ROPO customers are more likely to be local; 72% of customers who conduct a local search online visited a physical location that was under five miles away.

How to Measure Digital Marketing Efforts with ROPO

One of the most consistent challenges in digital marketing is measuring how online efforts directly cause offline purchases. Whether marketers are trying to figure out the true value of their social media posts, advertisements, or other forms of content creation, getting a true insight into customer behavior and the thought process while webrooming can be tricky.

It’s more important than ever to make the effort to gathering data and measuring how your online investment is translating to revenue. If you can set up both your physical and online stores appropriately, you will be able to collect the right information to see how website visitors and customers interact with your marketing materials online and offline.

Gather In-Store Information

Loyalty programs help to build a long-term, beneficial relationship with customers. Members of your loyalty program get early access to sales, they get discounts, and they get to be in on the latest news about your brand. In exchange, you get access to these customers’ inboxes and can use data from their membership to see how and where your consumers are conducting research and making purchases.

If your customers are part of a membership program, you may be able to connect their in-store purchases with their online behavior. If you track events, like viewing items or adding them into a cart, you will be able to directly see how often your customers are researching and reviewing products online before they make a physical purchase. Tracking in-store data can also help to prevent useless remarketing campaigns. Why send out emails reminding consumers about their empty carts when they have already purchased items?

There are many ways to collect in-store data. Use what is appropriate for your users and how they behave online:

Offer incentives after a purchase.

Give customers an online offer after they make a purchase, even if they are not part of a rewards program. This offer can be on a coupon or an email receipt. If customers click on the link, you can gather their data and connect their online or offline behavior. You can also use physical purchases to collect data the old-fashioned way. Send out a survey to recent customers and ask what resources they used before entering the store.

Connect with Facebook.

If you are using Facebook ads, connecting your rewards cards to Facebook will directly show a connection between the ads you put on Facebook and their effectiveness in the store. Add the Facebook Pixel to different events (making a purchase, adding an item to the cart, etc.) to gather data and conduct remarketing campaigns.

Check AdWords.

If you are using Google AdWords extensions, you may be able to gain insights into when customers are using online resources to make physical purchases. How often are customers making a phone call that appears on a Google ad? How many clicks come from ads with opening times or your store location? If these extensions are being used to drive more in-store sales, you may want to bid higher on ads with these extensions.

AdWords and other software can also help you track a customer’s location while searching for information. If, for example, people tend to search for certain products or keywords in a very close distance to your store, you can likely bet that they had intentions of entering and possibly purchasing a product.

Build Your Website Around More Sales

Adjusting one or two factors can be all it takes to make an online, rather than a physical purchase. Research why customers prefer an in-store experience and what makes them abandon their online cart. If the solution is as simple as free shipping or a more transparent return policy, you may be able to boost online sales and track the success of your digital marketing efforts.

For many customers making in-store purchases, the final visit to the store will form the final decision about making a purchase or not. Secure their decision by adding testimonials that drive home how trustworthy and valuable your products are. Testimonials are the key to building trust and encouraging purchase decisions while online. One or two won’t do the trick anymore; make testimonials and other user-generated content a priority in your overall content marketing strategy. Having at least 50 reviews can boost a product’s conversion rate by 4.6%. Get creative with the ways you gather and distribute user-generated content and assess how they affect your online and physical sales.

Create a Branded App

Online research doesn’t just consist of search engines or your online store. While just under half of all consumers start their research with a search engine, one in four consumers (26%) start their research through a branded app. If you have an app, you can control and measure the ROPO process from one source. A branded app can provide all of the information a customer needs to make a purchase decision. Customers can also scan the app after a purchase to earn rewards (and give you the data you need about the ROPO process.)

Ready to Create a Seamless Digital Marketing Strategy?

In order to create a digital marketing strategy that boosts online or offline sales, you will need to use and apply data about purchasing decisions to create content, ads, and other marketing materials that move customers along the buyer’s journey.

At Digital Squad, we offer a range of digital marketing services that will help you boost conversion rates and sales both in physical and online locations. We know the impact that digital marketing can have on different types of businesses, and offer to help all of our clients uses these strategies to find sustainable, long-term success. Our digital services can put your business in front of the right online shoppers through:

Reach out to one of our experts to learn more about reaching your goals for growth with Auckland’s top digital marketing agency.

Megan Okonsky is a copywriter and content marketing specialist with Digital Squad. She is originally from Philadelphia but has landed in Melbourne after traveling for eight months in Southeast Asia and New Zealand. She also teaches vinyasa yoga online. 

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