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The Online Catalog As ROPO Master. (Or should we say, DOPO Master?)


Online Catalog As ROPO Master: In previous posts, we’ve highlighted that online is gaining momentum. And that the majority of product research is done online (87%!). Equally interesting is that over four-fifths of purchases still take place offline.

If there is one thing these stats show us, it’s that the ROPO effect is a huge influence on the bottom line of a retailer.

By Researching Online, and Purchasing Offline, consumers enjoy the convenience of both online and offline shopping throughout their journey. And for retailers, it makes a lot of sense to play into this trend where online and offline synergize.

As an online catalog company, we know all about ROPO. So, read on if you want to learn how online catalogs contribute to this area.

Let’s start with a little refresher, …

What is ROPO?

ROPO means Research Online, Purchase Offline. Or to put it in black and white; what do people do online, that influences their purchasing decision offline. The main focus point is to connect your on- and offline media so you can impact that which has the most value—offline shopping behavior.

Questions we get from our clients when we digitize their catalogs or flyers are:

What about ROPO?
Can I measure this?
How significant is the effect?

And these questions make absolute sense! An important part of ROPO is being able to measure how online behavior impacts offline sales.

Overtime, ROPO measurement has gotten better. For example, through more accurate data on Google Store visits. But also other methods, such as adding a coupon online that can be redeemed in-store, or going through your data platform by looking at sales uplift for online-only offers. For this post, we’ll leave ROPO measurement out-of-scope, but be sure to let us know if you’re interested in hearing more about that.

The benefit of ROPO in short? By doing online (top-of-funnel) better, you can increase your offline (bottom-of-funnel) revenue.

So now the interesting question is …

How to trigger top-of-funnel interest?

There are many ways that retailers are already providing an online research experience to their shoppers. Think about things such as:

  • User reviews
  • Comparison tables
  • Buying guides

But for catalogs, we like to look even higher up in the funnel.

What comes before consumers start researching? What triggers that? Or how Google puts it—what triggers the Zero moment of truth? When do I start researching a product or know what product I want?

Very often, consumers don’t know necessarily which brand or product they’re after. More than a third of shoppers belong to a group of ‘discoverers’ that aren’t researching perse.

Attain Online ROPO mastery with this step-by-step guide and become an expert of this modern marketing method. Learn all you need here!

It’s easy to place discovery under ROPO as well, but let’s see what happens when we think about this differently:

You could argue that many retailers aren’t paying focused attention to a large chunk of their potential online audience (31% are discoverers).

When we look at physical stores, consumers ‘go shopping’. They walk from store to store, just browsing to get inspired. I think almost everyone has had the experience of visiting a store and leaving with more than you came for. You might say this act of browsing helps you discover latent needs.

To further play into discovery, retailers are also distributing catalogs to help reach a larger audience and provide a browsing or inspirational experience at home.

The thing is—all of this is taking place offline. So, what about online discoverers? That’s where we like to plug in ‘DOPO’: Discover Online Purchase Online/Offline.

This begs us to answer the question …

Why bother with an online catalog when you have an eCommerce site?

One thing is certain; the online store (in many cases) doesn’t provide that typical brick-and-mortar experience. Online stores are often optimized for transactions and conversions. This leaves a gap in the online shopping journey—a place where shoppers can discover products in comfort and ease:

  • 38% of online shoppers find convenience most important ‘at the beginning when researching’.
  • 58% of online shoppers want additional convenience finding deals and promotions.

For an online store to do what it’s best at, it has to provide many ways to slice and dice the full inventory of products. Search, filters, categories, sections, different display options, etc. These features help in completing a transaction, but they become obstacles for someone that just wants to engage with beautiful content and discover what’s on offer.

Have a look at these examples from the same company:

west elm online store Publitas

The online store experience—transactional, searching for a specific product.

west elm online catalog Publitas

The online catalog experience—inspirational, browsing collections.

By taking your catalog online, it essentially becomes a new channel in your marketing mix, that engages with shoppers top-of-funnel.

online catalog discovery phase funnel Publitas

  • Offers shoppers a relaxed & curated browsing experience.
  • One-click (or swipe) for shoppers to discover your brand and everything you have to offer.
  • An end-to-end journey from discovery to purchase.

Where an online store works through its various filters to drill-down on one specific product (converge), an online catalog keeps options open and allows a shopper to simply experience a beautiful offering (diverge) and discover.

The online catalog helps to fill in the missing quadrant, which so many retailers might have overlooked.

transaction discovery online offline quadrant Publitas

As a final takeaway

We hope this post has helped you understand how the online catalog can be a ROPO (or DOPO) master.

Interested in reading more about content experiences, digital transformation, and the online catalog? These posts might also interest you:

We’d like to end this post with a small plug to our product 😉

We can help you transform your catalog into an online content experience with a few serious benefits:

  • Start sharing your branded shopping experience on any of your marketing channels (paid, earned, owned, and shared).
  • Collect top-of-funnel data to supercharge your other marketing activities.
  • Using dynamic content to easily keep your catalog up-to-date and personalized.

Want to give our product a go? Contact us, or sign up for a free 14-day trial.