Thursday, May 3, 2012

Research online, purchase offline - don't miss out

ROPO is a term introduced by Google some while back to reflect the cross channel habits of today's modern shoppers who research online and then go on to purchase offline.


This is often the unmeasured factor in eCommerce sales, where the online store has actually contributed to an in-store sale by helping the user view the product online (e.g. see the button detail of a jacket, view the specifications of a computer component or read the details of a hotel or resort) before a customer then wanders into a physical location and hands over money to buy the actual goods. 


This shouldn't be confused with the other multi-channel functionality such as: 
click & collect (view, select & pay for your products online, collect in-store)
click & reserve (view & select your products online, pay & collect in-store)


So how do you, as an online marketer help, in this cross-channel transaction? Here's some thoughts:


1. Provide every possible means on your site to help the user record and remember the product they have chosen. This especially means making that 'Print' button easy to find (especially when the item you are displaying online is out of stock).
It is worth noting that some online stores do not include an on-site option to print out the product detail page, instead relying on the browser print function. I'm not a great believer in this, as over time most of the browser companies have done their utmost to hide the print function behind hard-to-find menu options.


2. Make sure your site visitor knows where your stores are!
Simple I know, but assuming you don't yet have the full multi-channel capability to inform your visitor of the exact stock position of each store, make sure the links to your store finder tool is easy to find.
Note: Whilst on this subject, PLEASE make sure the phone numbers of each store are accurate and clearly displayed too.


Furthermore with the increased adoption of mobile / smartphone usage, users aren't just researching online at home.... they are researching all the time online, including in-store! Yup, they are quite possibly browsing your mobile site, app or maybe just your main site in a smartphone whilst wandering around your premises.


John Lewis identified this issue last year and announced their plans for in-sore WiFi in October:
Here's what they said about this:
"More than 60 per cent of John Lewis customers research products online before visiting a shop to make a purchase and in-store Wi-Fi access allows them to continue and complete that journey, accessing product information and viewing ratings and reviews to influence their purchase."
http://www.johnlewispartnership.co.uk/media/press/y2011/press-release-21-october-2011-john-lewis-commits-to-free-wifi-in-all-its-shops.html 


With the Multi-channel & eCommerce landscape becoming more competitive all the time, it will be increasingly hard to ignore ROPO as a factor that contributes to sales.
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