ROPO: Bridging the Online-Offline Retail Gap

While marketers continue to make a big deal about the growth in online sales, it’s important to remember that the majority of consumers still make their purchases at brick and...

Gilbert Bermudez
Gilbert Bermudez December 3, 2018

While marketers continue to make a big deal about the growth in online sales, it’s important to remember that the majority of consumers still make their purchases at brick and mortar stores. Known as “research online, purchase offline” (ROPO), or “research online, buy offline” (ROBO), consumers who engage in this habit consult e-commerce websites and consumer generated content (CGC)—including reviews, ratings, blog posts, and expert opinions—before heading to a physical store to complete their purchases.

According to a recent infographic by Bazaarvoice, 45% of brick-and-mortar buyers read online reviews before making a purchase. Such consumers use CGC to qualify their buying decisions, but still want to go to the stores to see, touch, and test-drive products. Other consumers engage in ROPO because they want to compare different products and prices, and to avoid shipping costs.

ROPO is an integral part of the buyer’s journey and represents a big opportunity for brands and retailers who want to boost in-store sales that result from their digital marketing efforts.

How to Track Your ROPO Conversion Rate

There is often a clear correlation between your business’s online marketing efforts and in-store activities. According to a study that analyzed a major electronics retailer in the Netherlands, 100 additional online visits led to 25 additional in-store visits. Other studies indicate that money spent on local search ads led to increases in offline sales.

On the other hand, it can be difficult for brands and retailers to measure ROPO activity, especially if they have an e-commerce website and a physical store. How do you track an online visitor who browses and exits the website and then decides to purchase the product later on in the physical store? The challenge lies in setting up, connecting, and analyzing online and offline data sources.

A great place to start would be Google Ads and Analytics. The data contained in both platforms can help you estimate the value of in-store sales that were nurtured by online touch-points.

1. Set up Call Goals

One way to measure ROPO is to add call goals to your Universal Analytics in Google Analytics. All you need to do is integrate CallRail into your existing GA account and create the specific phone call goals. You could set up phone call goals related to inquiries (such as requests for the store’s contact information, driving directions, or chat). The caller may want to know your store’s opening hours, how to get to your store, or if a particular product is still in stock.

2. Track Soft ROPO Conversions

Soft ROPO conversions are interactions online visitors have with your website or ad that indicate the likelihood that they will visit your physical store. For example, a site visitor who entered their postcode in your store locator or viewed your contact info page to see opening hours are sending strong signals that they’re thinking of making a store visit. You’ll need to configure your analytics and tagging correctly to track online behavior and connect it to in-store conversions.

3. Use Google Analytic’s User-ID Feature

If a large percentage of your customers use a loyalty card in your stores and they log into your site with the same details, you can use Google Analytics’ User-ID feature to accurately track both multi-session, cross-device purchases and in-store purchases. On a similar vein, you could create online coupons and discount codes and analyze their usage at your physical stores.

4. Use Store Visit Conversions on Google Ads

Store visit conversion tracking is available for some advertisers on Google Ads. This feature allows advertisers to track ad clicks and viewable impressions and measure their impact on store visits. This form of tracking is not available to advertisers with sensitive location categories related to healthcare, religion, adult content, and the like. To assess your eligibility, please check out the official page on Google Ads Help.

5. Use Business Intelligence Software

To help you more accurately calculate your ROPO conversion rate and other conversion metrics, it’s best to invest in a good business intelligence software. The right BI software will help you collect and analyze data from multiple channels, as well as devise new methods to drive online and offline sales.

For example, information about your customer loyalty program could be entered into your BI software. You could then calculate the amount of time it took for the customer to make a store visit and purchase a product after being issued a loyalty card. The resulting data could help you devise more targeted advertising for such customers, encouraging them to make more purchases and use the loyalty card to their advantage.

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