Written by Michael Fiil 15.02.2022

What is ROPO? why is it so important and what does it have to do with Covid-19 and Social Selling?

ROPO is the abbreviation for Research Online Purchase Offline and describes a trend that started in 2018-19 and really took effect during the Covid-19 pandemic. The concept is important to understand if you have a physical store and want to avoid loosing turnover in any future lockdown. But ROPO is also important to understand because it is part of the "next normal".

In the "old days" - before Covid-19 - the physical store's shop window was the most important and therefore the gins in the clothing store should have changed clothes weekly. Lockdown made the shopping streets almost empty and online shopping took new heights. Social selling saw the light of day - so show your goods online, sell online or offer pick up at the door at the physical store. Research Online Purchase Offline gained real importance and became the path to survival for many.
ROPO is about visibility on the web and on social media. First and most important, it's about visibility on the search engines Google and Bing, because here most people start their "shopping journey" and let consumers decide for themselves whether the purchase and payment takes place online or offline - just like with social selling.
One can be looking for specific Nike running shoes, toner for a printer or a "good" divorce lawyer. Over 80% start by searching on Google.

Even though we search for a specific product name or service, our subconscious at the same time says "choose safely - avoid being cheated" and therefore recommendations - or other customer reviews - have had a really big impact - not to say most - on which link we click on in the search result. In other words, showing stars - review snippets - in the search results on Google - has great psychological significance and signals the credibility, security and trust that for most consumers is more important than the product or service they are looking for.
If ratings do not appear in the search results on Google and Bing, 94% of consumers, according to Qualtrics, will check credibility and experiences on trustpilot or elsewhere before clicking buy or show up to complete the in-store deal.

ROPO is thus about "connecting online" and completing the transaction offline - physically in the store and therefore the concept is important to master for all physical stores. My contention is that had the physical stores prioritized online visibility as important as the physical showcase, then the consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown would have been much less - perhaps meaningless.
The challenge is that COVID-19 has changed consumer behavior. Goods and services that were not previously sold online are now sold online because it is easy. But the most important thing to understand is that the search for 9 out of 10 now starts online - even though the transaction is completed in a physical store and that pattern is part of the "new normal" - our new behavior.

Therefore, it can be said that ROPO and online success start in the search results on Google with showing stars - review snippets, as Google calls it - that is, signs with previous customers' recommendations. You can read more specifically about getting started with Review Snippets here.

The search result shows accumulated Ratings for the company or for a specific product or service. The marketing of customer reviews should continue on the website and all landing pages and as a minimum there should be a link where one can easily read previous customers' detailed reviews. It's called Review Marketing and is the second most important thing after the stars in Google's search results. This is where you can read why a customer has given five stars but also why a customer has only given one and maybe read your comment on the one-star review.

How should customers submit their reviews - or how do you manage your reputation? It is called Reputation management and there are companies that live to advise on. On entries, Trustpilot and Google My Business are key players. Google My Business is still free, Trustpilot has always cost professionally. Something else that is being discussed a lot is the requirement to login to submit your rating on Google My Business and Trustpilot. You MUST log in if you want to submit a rating!

Au2Matic.com makes it possible to move the reputation management to your own website. Either by designing review forms in the cms system and linking them to Au2Matic or by inserting iframes on the website, which links to finished review forms from Au2Matic. It's called easy, easier and easiest. The advantage is that you keep the customers on your own website and review data with yourself. You can read more about Reputation Management and Au2Matic.com here.

This article was written by Michael Fiil, who since 1997 has worked with SaaS solutions, e-commerce and data-driven marketing.

In 2023, many will call him a specialist in the concept of ROPO (Research Online Purchase Offline), but his experience with and insight in digitization, started at the same time as the beginning of the Internet. In 1999, he headed the first International Business Partner at IBM Global Network and the thesis was EDI. Michael's first e-commerce platform, in 2001, was a Retail Management Platform, which per EDI could collect sales data from the stores' cash registers.

"The goal of marketing is to retain current customers or acquire new ones" and in the "new normal" offline and online merge. Data-driven marketing
is about utilizing known data and automating the display", Michael Fiil has stated, and more than 50.000 views of his blog articles support the topicality.

COVID-19 has shown with great force how important online visibility is when the physical store is closed down. That is why ROPO really became a concept during CORONA and important to master when talking about the "new normal".
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