ROPO effekt – The most important in a nutshell
As the popularity of the World Wide Web has increased, so has the fear that e-commerce will one day replace brick-and-mortar retailing altogether. Contrary to many predictions, however, brick-and-mortar retail is far from extinct. Consumers often use the Internet for research, but only decide to buy on site. This phenomenon – also known as the ROPO effect (research online, purchase offline) – has become particularly important in recent years. But how can brick-and-mortar retailers take advantage of this shopper behavior?
ROPO means “research online, purchase offline”. Users first find out about the product online on the company’s own website, social media channels or in independent forums. Prices are also compared, reviews are taken into account and products are preselected. Only then does the prospective customer decide for or against the product directly in stationary retail. This phenomenon is also called webrooming, in contrast to showrooming, where the prospective customer informs himself in the stationary trade but buys online.
ROPO stands for "resarch online, purchase offline" and describes the phenomenon that customers first inform themselves online and then buy offline (in stationary retail).
One thing is clear: this phenomenon has only existed since the Internet became accessible to everyone. But why, of all things, has this form of behavioral change taken hold?
Thanks to the Internet, we are all used to being able to find out about anything at any time. Regardless of whether we want to know what the weather will be like tomorrow or which item of clothing is currently in fashion, we have all the information with us at all times. This possibility has also increased our need for information more and more. After all, we are simply no longer used to buying products without first knowing what other people think of them.
At the same time, globalization has flooded the domestic market with low-quality products. Hardly anyone has not bought a product that was thrown in the trash after the first use because quality was clearly skimped on in production. And even though these products are often priced far below what domestic companies charge for comparable products, it annoys consumers when a product can no longer be used after its first use.
The combination of these two factors is clear: in order to find the best quality product at the lowest possible price, users first turn to the number one information medium, the Internet, so that they can then get an even better picture of the product on site, look at it live and touch it.
The greatest occurrence of the ROPO effect can be found in the healthcare, insurance, furniture, automotive or industrial trade sectors in the B2B area. A major commonality here is probably that most of your products are high-priced and require a lot of explanation or advice. Here, more emphasis is often placed on personal advice on product details and functionality, so that questions can be clarified in more detail. The feel and look of some products also play an important role, which is why a live test on site can be crucial.
Back in 2011, Google published a study according to which just under 38 percent of respondents said they would find out about a desired product online but purchase it offline. Considering the fact that nowadays even significantly more people use the mobile Internet and information about desired products is thus even more easily accessible, this suggests that the percentage of users with this behavior has increased rather than decreased.
And this is exactly what leads to the fact that dealers – regardless of whether they sell online or offline – have to pay attention to a positive online presence nowadays. After all, if a retailer’s online rating is poor, this can lead to significantly fewer in-store visits offline as well.
To keep it simple: Potential customers need to be able to find out everything they’re interested in as quickly and easily as possible. This starts with the address and opening hours and extends to the availability of the desired product. The important thing here is: it’s better to admit openly on your website that the product is currently not available. Most customers are willing to wait a few days until the product can be purchased again. However, if the customer only finds out in the store that the desired product is sold out, this could lead to a negative association with the company – and ultimately to fewer sales.
Another important factor is complete product portfolios. Should you only showcase a few of your items online, the customer might think that these are all your products and look for a store that is sure to carry their desired product. This is also an important factor for restaurants; after all, many people have already made up their minds regarding your food selection before entering the restaurant.
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