Ropo-Robo and web marketing

Appearing around five years ago, the « ropo-robo » could have tapped the beat to a « Rythm and Blues »  composed behind the aisles of a New Orleans supermarket : « Ropo-Robo, where are the shops ? » …

A simple musical interlude or an analogy more serious than it seems?

What is it about?

The « Research Online Purchase Offline or Research Online Buy Offline » designates purchasing behaviour with marketing analysis certainly just as rigorous as that required for a musical composition.

The « ROPO-isation » describes nothing more than the act of researching and comparing products on the internet before buying them in the store.  Yet behind this evident behaviour lies enormous marketing and sales stakes: more than 70 % of consumers now go first on the internet before going to the store of their choice in order to see, touch, try, or exchange.  Hence the importance of analysing the link between the consumers tracks on the web and his purchasing behaviour in a store.  The field of action of ROPO is large with already more than 40 % of vehicle purchases and nearly 30 % of consumer products purchases: from Hi Tech to computers along with household electronics, kitchen utensils, clothes and shoes, or food and cleaning products.

How does it work ?

www.wearetheshops.com is probably one of the best examples of a very sophisticated marketing and technological process which hides behind the simple act of hybrid purchasing combining the internet and the shop.  That which appears to be a simple and efficient service for finding and reserving the right product, at a good price, and in a store nearby, actually relies upon a very industrialised process:  a thorough research and referencing of products coming from shops or big store chains; a website simple to use, with a search engine of complex algorithms allowing the consumer to find the products of affiliated stores wherever they may be;  with an array of criteria relative to each consumer, product details, price, brands, other users opinions, regional and personalised recommendations of products and stores.

At the end, the reservation of the product is made with a simple click, and moreover, with no online payment: the payment is made in the store, relieving the apprehension of a good number of web users concerning the security of online payments.  The picking up or exchange of the product is done in the store.

What are the benefits?

There are many; everyone up and down the chain benefits.

The brands and affiliated stores have a greater volume of consumers thanks to the search engine referencing their products. This volume allows optimisation of inventory management and a greater reactivity for sales promotions or discounts.

The measuring of actual sales coming from the web users helps advertisers by giving them very precise marketing data allowing them to know what are the best sales, which type of product and in which place. These statistics also help the sellers of ad space to validate the part of sales generated online and thus consequently orient the growth of their business.

This truly « ROPO-isation » of the act of purchasing largely explains why traditional distributors invest in web marketing in order to recapture clients that are harder and harder to retain.

Profound changes ensue.

At the consumer level, price transparency becomes evident, there is no longer a price difference between offline and online; the competing offers are henceforth inside the stores. The « store apps » allow product details to be read on a Smartphone, permitting a comparison with another possibly less expensive product sold in a different store.

At the brand and store level, the product line offer becomes almost limitless given nearby storage and stocking facilities.

It will still be necessary that the « web-to-store » has well tuned measurement models to govern the whole with full confidence, without becoming a « ROBO-tisation » such as the one in George Orwell’s « 1984 ».

Gilles Bouchard

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