Improving Search Results for Research-Online-Purchase-Offline Customers

What if 68% of your site visitors only came to research an offline purchase?

According to research by Accenture:

  • 68% compare prices online before shopping in a physical store
  • 58% locate items online before purchasing offline
  • 67% prefer to research online and buy from physical stores

Just for fun, let’s call web shoppers with a high propensity to research online and purchase offline “ROPO” customers (a noun and a verb). Reasons to ROPO include:

  • Shopper wants to view the item up close
  • Shopper needs the item sooner than it can ship
  • Shopper wants to avoid shipping fees
  • Shopper might not be comfortable sharing personal information online

Like the 4 buying modalities, a customer may be generally a ROPO (prefers to research online and purchase offline most of the time), or more likely to ROPO based on the purchase situation (e.g. received gift card from Target for Christmas, hate wandering the aisles on a busy Saturday – research online, walk in, walk out).

Improving Search for ROPOs

I spotted Target targeting ROPOs in category and search results the other day:

This offers a higher level of customer service to ROPOs than just providing store lookup on the product page — the ROPO can scan search results and only view details on items they can pick up in-store.

Target shows you locations, hours of operation and a telephone number, sort by distance (not sure how helpful this is if you don’t live at the center-point) and low or normal availability. You can also view a map and print the page in regular or map view.

Move Closer to “Bulls-Eye”

To make this even more helpful, I’d like to see is a zipcode or city-based filter where you could define your location, and see only products available in-store locally.

I’d also like to see a button or icon that differs from the add to cart button (to facilitate scanning if you don’t use a filter) – change the size, color and shape.

Another idea to help ROPO is to use a personalization tool like Sitebrand‘s Geo-IP detection to sniff out visitors from areas you have a local presence. Show these visitors custom content throughout the site with a link to your store locator or inventory lookup.

Have you seen any other e-tailer examples of how to aid ROPOs?

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10 Responses to “Improving Search Results for Research-Online-Purchase-Offline Customers”

  1. I totally agree about the Zip code. Laying over Google Maps and indicating locations of nearby stores (based on your location) should be easy.

    Maybe giving alternative “Purchase now, pick up at store” would be a sneaky way to still get them purchase the product and not get distracted later with other stores.

  2. JJG says:

    The Hbc family of stores (,, and have a pretty cool drag-and-drop overlay located on every Product Information Page.

    The overlay allows users to select and store up to 3 stores and check product availability within them. Users can select by either Postal Code or Province & City.

  3. If you’re interested in understanding more about how Sitebrand’s personalization platform uses geo-targeting in very cool ways – including driving web visitors to B&M store locations, we’ve got a ton of real life case studies. One that references exactly what Linda is talking about is re Wholesale Tools. Check it out at:

    Enjoy the read!
    Carolyn Gardner
    Dir. Customer Experience,

  4. [...] Pour rassurer notre ministre de l’Economie, Xavier Bertrand (lire l’article : Le e-commerce pire que le travail le dimanche ?, j’ai dégoté un excellent papier de Lindas Butos, de Getelastic. [...]

  5. [...] the convenience of shopping online, many people still use the web only to research products to purchase offline. Multi-channel retailers with both physical stores and online stores have a leg up on pure-plays [...]

  6. [...] Christmas shopping officially underway, and many holiday shoppers using the internet to ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) – offering ship-to-store services to online customers is a competitive advantage to multi-channel [...]

  7. Heh, here I was thinking that ROPO was purchase online, and then wondering why you’d highlight Target’s ecommerce for targeting online purchasers. Maybe RONPOFs?

    Cool case study and pointers anyways :)

  8. [...] give Target the ability to catch up with its competition, considering consumers’ affinity for research-online-purchase-offline and the popularity of Walmart’s ship-to-store feature. Target could also incorporate a local [...]

  9. [...] Christmas shopping officially underway, and many holiday shoppers using the internet to ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) – offering ship-to-store services to online customers is a competitive advantage to multi-channel [...]

  10. [...] When making the case for a larger photography budget, consider not just the conversion stats, but ROPO, SEO, brand integrity and opportunity [...]

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