Does eCommerce hurt offline businesses?

It would be easy for retailers to make that assumption based on the fact that today’s consumers seem to favor online shopping. As of 2015, data from comScore indicated that, in the US, eCommerce accounted for at least 12.4% of all retail sales and that online retail sales growth outpaced total retail growth by 3-4 times.

But according to Techopedia, “The phenomenon of webrooming [the process of researching a product online before going into a brick-and-mortar store to make the purchase]…shows that physical retailers still have a role to play in the future of commerce.”

Mounting evidence suggests that despite the rising number of purchases that actually take place online, an even larger percentage of sales is influenced by online product content, ratings and reviews, and more. In fact, a 2015 Deliotte study revealed that “digital influences 64 cents of every 1 dollar spent in-store.”

That’s good news for small retailers who can leverage ROPO (Research Online, Purchase Offline) to drive traffic and increase their store’s revenue. Here’s how:

3 Ways ROPO Can Help Your Business:

1. Search Rankings “can fundamentally impact ROPO traffic for your products,” says Profitero. “Discoverability is key in clueing shoppers into researching your products, whether they search for product keywords or browse specific categories.”

You can use search engines to guide consumers and customers, online or offline, with an attractive, easy-to-navigate website that presents the information your visitors are looking for, is optimized for mobile, and ranks well in the SERPs.

2. Good Product Content will encourage webrooming, allowing consumers to compare your products against those of your competitors. Make sure you post detailed product descriptions, photos, and prices, as well as product availability. Complete and compelling product content will amp up discoverability and drive traffic to your category and product pages.

3. Ratings & Reviews – When you consider that nearly 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase, you get an idea of the important role they play in the consumers’ purchasing experience. That means retailers should be paying attention to what’s being said about their brand online and managing their company’s reputation in the digital realm:

“A positive reputation is one of the most powerful marketing assets a business has to convince new customers to contact them. The social proof contained within reviews and star ratings helps consumers short cut their research and make decisions faster and with greater confidence than ever before.

 

“The growing quantity of online reviews and review sites covering more industries and services, provides huge benefits to both consumers and the businesses that fully embrace reputation marketing.”

 

Source: Bright Local

The Takeaway

Retailers needn’t feel threatened by the growing number of consumers who rely on online research for their shopping needs. In fact, Pew Research Center points out that 64% of Americans say that all things being equal, they’d prefer to purchase in-store over buying online. Why is that?

Techopedia discovered that consumers engage in webrooming (or ROPO) because it allows them to learn more about products before buying them, helps them make easier returns, comes with no shipping costs, and it supports local businesses. Furthermore, some research studies show that webrooming is a fundamental consumer practice that is going to help support physical retailers for years to come.

Building a quality website that performs well in search results, along with creating good product content, and managing your online reputation will help you leverage ROPO to drive traffic and increase revenue for your store.

About Author

Sherene Funk

Sherene Funk is a voracious reader who owns more books than she can ever read in this lifetime (but that doesn't stop her from collecting more). A graduate of Brigham Young University, she has published several humorous non-fiction articles and worked in advertising for many years before moving to her current position as a writer on modern retailing at Rain Retail Software.

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