The Research Online Purchase Offline (ROPO) is a process that describes when consumers’ research products they are interested in purchasing online, but purchase the product offline in a physical store. Potential customers search for products online and comparison shop. They read reviews published by other users to determine which item will best meet their needs. Once they make their decision, they make an in-person purchase.
Since the introduction of the internet and ecommerce, the behavior of consumers has significantly changed. Thanks to the wealth of online stores and product review content that can be found online, shoppers largely rely on the internet to determine what type of products will best meet their needs before they make a purchase. They read reviews that other users have published on online stores, blog posts, review articles, social media posts, and various other types of review-type content to find the products that will best meet their needs. Once they find the product that suits their needs, they purchase it a brick and mortar store.
ROPO Facts and Figures
Bazzarvoice assessed the behavior of consumers from more than 20 of the largest global retailers in North America, Asia Pacific, Europe, and the Middle East across hundreds of brands and segments. Their goal was to find out how researching online affects purchasing offline. Their examination lead to the following findings:
- 39 percent of people who purchase in-store read online reviews prior to actually making a purchase.
- Between 45 and 55 percent of in-store buyers read reviews of high-priced technology items online before making a purchase.
- 58 percent of people who buy heath-, beauty-, and fitness-related items in-store first read reviews online.
ROPO and Product/Service Category
While consumers can research virtually all products online prior to making a purchase offline, the following products are those that are largely impacted by online research:
- Automobiles and automotive-related products
- Baby items
- Beauty items
- Entertainment (toys and games)
- Tools and hardware
- Outdoor living
How ROPO Affects In-Store Purchases
Research online purchase offline has changed the way that consumers shop in a number of ways. Most notably, they demand more information now than ever before about the products or services they are seeking to purchase. This explains why consumers often switch back and forth from online to offline, or from offline to online when they are deciding what to purchase, or actually making a purchase.
Why do consumers choose to buy in-store when they can purchase the products the research online via the internet? There are several reasons. Buying in-store gives consumers the opportunity to actually experience a product before purchasing it. They can ensure that the item suits their needs. They don’t have to wait for shipment and delivery; they can receive the item immediately after purchasing. For these reasons, many consumers still prefer to complete purchases in a physical store.
Why ROPO Matters
While ecommerce has certainly grown (and continues to), it’s important for retailers to keep in mind that 90 percent of consumers still make their purchases in retail stores. The internet does largely influence purchasing decisions, but most shoppers still tend to prefer physically interacting with an item before they purchase it.
Boosting Online Presence
Retailers can boost their online presence by building websites that are optimized with local SEO. Websites should also contain pertinent information, such as:
- Complete portfolios of products
- Availability of items
- Hours of operation
- Options that allow customers to purchase online and pick up in person
- Reviews of products and services offered
While ecommerce has impacted retail shopping, in-store purchases are still more commonplace. Retailers should take advantage of the opportunities that the internet provides, particularly in terms of researching products before buying, in order to increase their success.