Are you looking for a product on the Internet, read reviews about it, compare various options, and ultimately you do not decide to order it online, but go to a stationary store and make the purchase there. Sounds familiar? Probably each of us has acted in a similar way, and if not, we certainly know someone who, before making a decision about spending money on a given product, has to go to the store and “touch” it personally.
This is not surprising – this phenomenon is so common that it has been named and characterized as the ROPO effect. Should e-commerce store owners be concerned about it?
Research online purchase offline, i.e., searching for products on the Internet and then buying them in a stationary store. Internet users are inspired by the information collected on the web, but then they go to a traditional store to view the product there and finalize the purchase. This has its pros and cons, but of course, circumstances alter cases. If we only run e-commerce, such consumer behavior may seem like the worst-case scenario. However, in a situation where there are also stationary branches in a given business, an appropriate synergy strategy should be implemented for all points of sale – omnichannel. The Internet has a huge impact on purchasing decisions, but where the transaction is carried out depends only on the customer’s motivation.
Each buying process begins with identifying a need – whether we realized it ourselves or whether it was aroused by advertising. The next stage is searching for information, opinions and comparing options, which is considering the advantages and disadvantages in general, before we make a final decision. Whether we decide to buy a product online or offline is influenced by many factors, the main ones being, among others, product category, price or how urgent the need is. The age of clients may also be important in the context of the ROPO effect. Older consumers much more often have to “touch” the product before buying, while among younger Internet users this phenomenon is much less frequent. The urgent need to purchase the product and the desire to avoid shipping costs are also important factors in choosing offline purchases.
After such in-depth online research, the customer goes to the store armed with knowledge about the product he is interested in and knowing how its prices are shaped on the Internet. Looking at the product with your own eyes or even trying it out will bring you closer to finalizing your purchase.
Even if the price is 10% higher than in an online store, a large percentage of consumers will be willing to pay so much more because they will return home with the purchase – unlike online ordering, where you have to wait for delivery.
Reducing the number of customers who search and buy online is an important goal for the development of e-commerce stores. We will not change the beliefs and behavior of customers straight away, but we can make online shopping easier, more pleasant, and most importantly – without any difficulties. The key to success should be the usability of the online store, ease of use and the best possible presentation of the product to the customer.
Good quality photos and videos, accurate descriptions, dimensions and customer feedback on specific products are the most important elements that you need to take care of in the first place. Customer added value, delivery and exchange or return conditions should be as affordable as possible. In recent years, in the e-commerce environment, there are many examples of companies whose products are not the most easily sold online, but thanks to the use of the omnichannel strategy, they have become leaders in their industries.
In the era of widespread online shopping, there are situations where customers view products in stationery stores, and ultimately make an online purchase – such behavior is called the reverse ROPO or SOPO effect (see offline purchase online). This can also be referred to as the showrooming effect. As Gemius’s research shows, the phenomenon of the reversed ROPO effect is the strongest for footwear, clothing and home electronics / household appliances.
We want to try on clothes, check its color or touch the material – you can’t experience it online. One of the main reasons for the reverse-ROPO phenomenon is the customers’ pricing awareness. If we are not in a hurry to buy the product after seeing it in a stationary store, we can go back online and monitor its price or wait for an attractive promotion.
If you run an online store, do not treat the ROPO effect as a silent and insidious killer of your e-store. Make the most of your online presence! Price, discounts for regular customers or subscribers, loyalty programs, various ways of gamification, and even the added value of knowledge can all be used to compete. The strength of the community and the brand image in social media are also a big advantage and build the trust of recipients. We can also convince skeptics to shop online with logistics and helpful and comprehensive customer service. If such a person learns the comfort of buying specific categories of products online, there is a very small chance that they will return to their old habits. After all, as people we quickly get used to comfort – it just needs to be provided to the customer.
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