#blog

Research online and buy in-store?

By Amy, Eastpoint Software on 08 Dec 14

ROPO is a phrase you may have heard. It means “Research Online, Purchase Offline”, and refers to customers scoping out online prices before heading to a shop to buy.

ROPO is a trend in buying behaviour and a term that has been about for a while. It means “Research Online, Purchase Offline”. Often this behaviour is attributed to higher cost items, where you want to make sure you’re spending your money wisely.

Is this an actual thing?

If you haven’t heard this term before, or are new to ecommerce and keen to learn more about your customer’s shopping tendencies, it’s an interesting concept.

When I first heard this term, and the research behind it (ie, that it wasn’t just a laboured acronym, it was genuine consumer behaviour), I was a bit surprised.

I thought it was common for people to test-drive a product in-store and then go back online to compare prices (and possibly buy) online.

And indeed the term also works the other way round – Research Offline, Purchase Online.

In a Guardian article from October, they introduced ROPO as a “recognised trend” and that people will be going to shops to spend their money over Christmas, having researched online.

Data from Australian shoppers from earlier this year showed that they did both the ROPO variants, with 84% saying that they often or sometimes research online and bought in store, and 60% saying they often or sometimes looked in store but bought online.

Dr Evil has stolen my ROPO!

So where does that leave retailers? Well, for business with both an online and high street presence, this type of online/offline buying and advertising has a name: multi-channel marketing. Customers are directed to the brand and able to buy in whatever way they choose.

For businesses that are just offline (increasingly rare for retail) or more likely, just online, there are obvious pitfalls to someone consistently falling into one type of behaviour.

For ecommerce, to try to get the potential ROPO into a… let’s call it ROLOPO (research online, look offline, purchase online…yet, it’s tedious) you have to make sure your ecommerce platform is looking good, working well and, most importantly, your pricing is correct.

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