Online? Offline? Both!
The modern customer only buys online, which is why stationary retail is dying out - is this statement true? No. Because despite e-commerce, retail is still very “alive”.
However, shopping behavior has changed significantly in recent years. The customer journey - the consumer's journey from the first expression of interest to the purchase - is sometimes very complicated and "confused". A clear picture emerges, which is referred to as the ROPO effect.
What is the ROPO effect?
The acronym ROPO stands for "Research Online, Purchase Offline", it can also mean "Research Offline, Purchase Online". That means:
● A customer researches on the Internet, but buys the product in the store
● The customer obtains information from the retail and orders the product in an online shop
The ROPO effect expresses the fact that consumers like to jump between different channels. This behavior can be seen in all age groups, especially since the corona pandemic.
Does the ROPO effect apply to all product types?
Yes, the ROPO effect occurs in both the private customer segment (B2C) and the business customer segment (B2B). It doesn't matter how expensive or in need of explanation a product is. From groceries and cameras to cars and construction machinery: Almost all customer groups use online and offline channels when shopping.
This is what a ROPO Customer Journey can look like
Anton B. would like to buy a new smartphone. That's why he first visits the nearest electronics store to get an overview of the various current models. He picks up the smartphones and tries them out to get a better feel for which features he likes and which ones he doesn't like.
In order to narrow down his selection, he asks a seller for detailed advice. He learns more about the differences between the various smartphone models and their respective advantages and disadvantages.
At home, Mr. B. continues his research. He searches the internet for the smartphones he was shown today, reads reviews and compares online prices. In the end he has a favorite model. He also visits the electronics store's online shop. Then he discovers an attractive offer for new customers. Here he then orders his new smartphone.
This is how your company can benefit from the ROPO Effect
Nowadays it is no longer enough to just run a shop. And just concentrating on digital distribution can also be insufficient. If you want to reach your (potential) customers at as many contact points on the customer journey as possible, you have to rely on the ROPO effect.
That means: Be active online and offline! To do this, develop a cross- or omnichannel strategy in which you connect retail and e-commerce in the best possible way. Make sure that prospects keep coming into contact with your company. For example like this:
Even if your business focuses on selling online, you can set up a few flagship stores. You present your products in these showrooms, but sales are not the main focus.
Shop / Onlineshop
Do you operate online and offline trade more or less equally? Then your employees should point out that there is an online shop during the sales talk in the shop. As a "memory aid" you can give prospective customers a flyer that emphasizes the advantages of the online shop.
Click & Reserve
Offer Click & Reserve in your online shop: Interested parties can reserve the products digitally and then try them out physically on site. However, it does not have to be a purchase.
Click & Collect
Click & Collect is more direct than Click & Reserve. Here, your customers order and pay for the products they want online and then pick them up at the branch of their choice.
Create synergies instead of walls
“Retail VERSUS e-commerce” - an eternal struggle! This image is in many people's minds and, in our opinion, is wrong. Because correctly it should be called “retail WITH e-commerce”.
The purchasing behavior of consumers has changed in recent years - and it will continue to change. The wheel of time can neither be stopped nor turned back. Face the change by actively shaping it. Be active online and offline or offline and online to use the ROPO effect.
It is important to connect both channels with each other. For example, point out your online shop in the retail store. And show your online shop customers that you can also be reached "in real life". In this way you build a bridge between the "worlds" and collect plus points with the so-called channel-less customer, who simply wants to consume anytime and anywhere.