Do you know the ROPO effect? Here is the foe and friend of e-commerce
Magdalena Parys

Can e-shop owners take advantage of each visit of a potential customer? And maybe by providing specialist knowledge of products they only drive sales of traditional shops?

The ROPO effect is a situation in which consumers start by gathering information on a product or service online – read blogs, reviews and comments – and only then go to a traditional shop or outlet to make a purchase. The name of this effect stems from: Research Online, Purchase Offline. Surprisingly, it is common.

Only commerce giants, however, can be present in every distribution channel – running online sale as well as a wide net of traditional shops (the so-called omnichannel strategy). They do not have a reason to be worried about the ROPO effect. However, it may be an obstacle for small companies, which often only operate online.

ROPO effect in Poland

In Poland, a detailed study of the “Research online, purchase offline” effect was conducted by Opiniac.com, a company analyzing behavior of e-consumers. Report “The ROPO effect in Polish e-commerce segments – 2015” explains how Polish Internet users do the shopping in seven popular product categories:

·         Consumer Electronics/Household Appliances

·         Books, Movies, Music

·         Holidays

·         Medicines, cosmetics

·         DIY – tools, building and garden materials

·         Sport; Telecommunication.

The basic conclusion from the study is that online and traditional forms of trade do not constitute two separate unconnected worlds. Very often they intertwine, and Polish consumers willingly step into both of them. Nearly 70 per cent of over 250,000 Internet users surveyed by Opiniac.com declare that they check and search online before shopping in a traditional shop. As many as 5 out of 6 purchases made offline is inspired by information found online.

“There is no universal customer behavior pattern when it comes to the ROPO effect. Customer behavior varies depending on the industry and on what people search online” – states in the report Zbigniew Nowicki from Opiniac.com. This heterogeneity stimulates marketing and forces competition because consumers who check products online before purchase are more demanding.

Online customer – more satisfied

The report by Opiniac.com lists a number of positive conclusions for companies that operate only in e-commerce. For instance, one saying that in spite of a strong position of traditional commerce in Poland, e-commerce gets better reviews from consumers.

The Net Promoter Score (NPS) is five times better for online than offline shopping. In the case of e-commerce, shopping in the “Books, movies, music” category achieved the highest score – 53.44 points. Two out of three respondents are willing to recommend an e-shop to their friends. What is interesting, the “Books, movies, music” category received the worst result in a study on traditional shops. It was the only one scoring a negative result (-1.65 point), which means that customers were dissatisfied in most cases.

E-shops gain advantage with its well-prepared item descriptions, comprehensive platforms for products, presence on price comparison sites and effective positioning. Therefore, it is essential for online sellers to take advantage of their strengths and finalize transactions.

Efekt ROPO w sprzedaży internetowej

There are sectors in which traditional trade vanishes. And sectors in which it is essential

Despite the fact that Poles have better experience with online channels, the efficiency of traditional shops cannot be ignored. In some segments buyers clearly prefer traditional channels.

Like in the case of holidays. According to the Opiniac.com analysis, in spite of coming up with holiday plans mostly online, Poles prefer to make a decision about a trip purchase after talking to a travel agent in a traditional agency. In this case, a direct contact with a seller prevails, because of the fear of disclosing personal data or making online payments for large sums.

E-shops have nothing to worry about

For companies operating only online, the ROPO effect poses a threat. However, taking into account market trends –growth of the e-commerce market – the effect is not strong enough to hamper the development of e-commerce in the long run.

According to the report by Gemius, in Poland there are 9.4 million households with the Internet access, 55 percent of Internet users have already shopped online, and the total value of the market has had a double-digit growth – in 2015, the e-commerce sector has grown by 28 per cent, reaching the value of PLN 27 billion. In Poland, the climate contributes to the development of e-commerce.

Today, traditional shops should be worried if they do not conduct part of their business online. Apart from the ROPO effect that may hamper the development of e-commerce, there is also a reversed ROPO effect – a customer looks for information on a product offline, asks shop assistants and consultants, but buys online.

It turns out that this activity is quite popular in Poland; there are many people who prefer to shop online because of convenience and price. Every third e-consumer buys online products found offline: consumer electronics, household appliances, shoes, cosmetics and perfumes, items for children, telephones, books or cars and car parts. So, a piece of the pie reserved for the enthusiasts of traditional commerce is decreasing.

 

Photo: Fotolia/denisismagilov