How Technology Can Eliminate Friction Caused by the ROPO Effect
The barrier between the physical and digital worlds is more permeable than you think. A few years ago, the rise of e-commerce made physical retailers accuse online stores of robbing their customers. However, it could actually be the other way around. A study by Social Media Today revealed that 80% of searches for products online ended with purchases made in physical stores. This is known as the ROPO effect.
ROPO (research online, purchase offline) is when customers find and research a product on the Internet, then go to a physical store to buy it. This process, also known as webrooming, lets customers take advantage of the closeness and immediacy of shopping at a local store. The reverse concept, showrooming, is when a customer visits a physical store to see a product in person, then buys it on an e-commerce site. This lets them take advantage of the lower prices often provided online.
Retailers today have to keep these webrooming and showrooming trends in mind. This can be achieved through ROPO marketing, which is highly beneficial for businesses. ROPO shoppers can quickly become showroomers if retailers don’t completely eliminate any possible friction shoppers may encounter in the physical store.
How to implement effective ROPO marketing to eliminate friction and keep customers coming back
Going to a store requires customers to invest time and money, while e-commerce only requires the patience to wait for your delivery to arrive (unless you order from Amazon, where the wait is getting shorter and shorter). Retailers can benefit from the ROPO effect, but it is essential that customers find more than just the product they are looking for when they visit the store.
The following are some of the main friction points that can affect ROPO shoppers:
- Knowing more than the employees: ROPO customers spend time and energy researching the product they want. They read reviews, compare with other brands, and already know the reasons behind their purchase decision. When they get to the store, however, they want to compare this information with store employees, since they theoretically know the product best. If customers find that employees are uninformed, it can negatively affect their opinion of the store, the brand, or even the product.
- Not finding the store useful: Customers that choose to visit a physical store rather than buying online should leave feeling like they made the right choice. That is why it is key to provide a positive and memorable shopping experience. You should offer customers additional information, the possibility to learn about more products, or personalized experiences. There are many tools that can help you learn what customers want based on their in-store behavior. Technology is a great ally when developing and implementing a ROPO marketing
- Wasting time: A store with poorly managed checkout lines, out-of-date inventory information, a counterintuitive layout, and limited payment options can make a customer feel like they wasted their most valuable resource: their time. All processes in the store have to be optimized, and stores should be equipped with technology that adds value and makes the shopping experience unique. ROPO customers won’t settle, and retailers shouldn’t either.
How to make sure that customers don’t make their next purchase online
Retailers should take advantage of the ROPO effect trend to improve their service and provide more value to their customers in the physical store. Retailers have to do everything they can to make the shopping experience as amazing as possible. This gives customers positive memories of their visit to the store, which will make them want to go back.
There are tech solutions that can optimize store processes. Digital signage provides additional information and valuable content for customers based on their interests. Sensors and analytics software in stores provide valuable insights for store managers. They can make changes based on quality data collected anonymously and respecting customer privacy.
Above all, technology empowers employees by providing a source of firsthand information and continuous updates. They can use downtime in the store to keep learning. Technology can help you take advantage of the ROPO effect, avoid retail showrooming, and get the most out of your data.