ROPO: Research Online, Purchase Offline – Closing the Loop

The ROPO Effect is something many online shops have to deal with. There are some strategies to ‘combat’ ROPO or at least have it work in your favour. Today, we’ll look at what ROPO means and what your online shop can do about it.


    1. What is ROPO?
    2. Why do consumers use the ROPO approach to shop?
    3. What kinds of product are most susceptible to ROPO?
    4. What can you do to combat ROPO?

What is ROPO?

ROPO stands for “Research Online, Purchase Offline” (It is also reffered to as 'showrooming'). In essence, it means that consumers will research the product they are interested in online while actually completing the purchase in a physical store (offline).

This can be costly for retailers who spend on advertising online. Consumers click on the ads, which costs advertisers money, but don’t end up buying anything in the online shop.

Why do consumers use the ROPO approach to shop?

Now that we know what ROPO means, it can be helpful to understand why this happens in the first place.

As the “R” in ROPO suggests, the biggest reason this happens is because consumers are researching their products properly before committing to a purchase. The internet obviously affords them the opportunity to properly research any product they are considering purchasing.

To go alongside the accessibility the internet provides them to research, they’ll continue their purchase offline because they simply want to have some kind of physical interaction with the product. This is even more prevalent for certain types of products (more on that in the next section).

Some other reasons shoppers might opt to purchase offline are:

  • Ability to get the product immediately
  • More certainty about the product’s size/fit
  • Comfort in buying perishable products in person

With the global pandemic easing up, many consumers will be eager to shop in-store again. This means that ROPO numbers will most likely go up again the more things return to normal.

With all this in mind, there are some kinds of products that are more likely to go fall into the ROPO consumer journey.

What kinds of product are most susceptible to ROPO?

As you might imagine, some products and product categories fit into the ROPO effect more than others.

Some of the most typical categories include:

  • Fashion
  • Footwear
  • Beauty products
  • Furniture
  • Home appliances

Below, we can see some statistics about how Polish shoppers use ROPO. It’s worth noting that the survey took place in 2020 and 2021. Therefore, access to physical shops may have been somewhat limited (by law or personal choice) in 2021. Either way, the results from this survey on ROPO seem to fit what is common around the world:


Source: Statista

Although you may not be a Polish consumer (or a Polish shop owner), the results here confirm what has been said: Certain products need to be touched/felt before they are purchased.

Building materials, shoes, furniture, electronics, groceries, clothing and cosmetics round out the top product categories most likely to be affected by ROPO. They pretty much all fall into the reasons shoppers might complete the purchase offline that we stated before.

What can you do to combat ROPO?

Changing consumer behaviour is not an easy task, but also not impossible. Although you won’t be able to eliminate ROPO entirely (and if you have a brick-and-mortar shop, you may not necessarily want to completely eliminate it), there are some things you can do to help inspire your website visitors to complete their order on your website.

Measuring the ROPO effect

If you have a physical store, it can be easier to see what number of people are actually coming into your shop to buy the product.

woman looking at clothes in a shop mirror


For example, you can include your offline sales of a certain product and factor that along with your advertising spend to see your true return-on-advertising-spend (ROAS). If you suspect an ad campaign is leading to in-store purchases, you can prove it by including those offline purchases as part of the return on investment calculations.

If you don’t have a physical shop, this will be a lot harder. You’ll probably have to calculate your ROAS the old-fashioned way. Compare your return on investments to your revenue on that product. See if it makes sense to continue advertising (or carrying) the product anymore.

Drive traffic to your physical shop

If you don’t own a physical shop, feel free to skip this section.

However, if you do own a physical shop and you noticed that certain products do sell better in-store despite your online ads, you might actually want to continue these campaigns.

Recommended reading: Advertising Your Local Business on Waze

Again, eliminating ROPO completely is impossible, so in some cases you might want to embrace this consumer behaviour. The trick is now to make sure they actually come into your shop to complete the purchase rather than a competitor.

With that in mind, consider upgrading your Google Business Profile and make sure your structured data is up to date on your website. In other words, make all your business information up-to-date and accessible online. This includes Google Maps searches, but also on your website directly.

Set up your Google Business Profile  An essential part of your brand's Google presence Download whitepaper

Letting shoppers know that they can test out the product in person can be a great way to inspire them to buy it with you. Highlight that your in-store experts can help answer any questions they may have. Whatever reason they might have for not wanting to buy it online should be acknowledged indirectly. Give them the feeling that they can get the best of both worlds with your brand.

Adjust your online prices

Although pricing may not be every shopper’s top priority, it is still a factor for most shoppers. If your shop doesn’t offer a good incentive for them to complete their purchase online, many shoppers will opt to buy it in-store.

Recommended reading: How to Create a Suitable Pricing Model for a Business

Pricing very well may be that incentive. Of course, how much of a discount you want to offer will depend on many factors, such as shipping, potential return costs and profit margins, it is definitely something to consider if you want to galvanise your site’s visitors to buy the product from your site.

Optimise your product pages

If pricing changes aren’t option, you should consider optimising your product pages (you should do this in either case).

Shoppers want to inform themselves as much as possible before certain purchases. It’s your job to make sure they get that info with you. If they feel well-informed the feeling of risk they might feel for an online purchase should go down.

So, what kind of elements can you optmise? We’ve created an article on what makes the perfect product page, so have a read, but in summary, you’ll want to have a look at:

  • Unique product descriptions that speak to your target audience
  • Informative product descriptions with many details
  • Many product images with different angles
  • A FAQs or Q&A section
  • Breadcrumbs for easy navigation
  • Trust elements

The biggest thing to remember is transparency and information. Let your site’s visitors know everything they might want to know about your product. For example, if you're a fashion retailer, you might want to include the model's height and weight (and what size they're wearing) to give your visitors more context on the size and fit of your clothes.

Let them know what the product is perfect for and even what it might not be suitable for. Not only does this build trust, but it can help you avoid returns.

Side note: We’ve got downloadable whitepapers for many of the topics mentioned above, including product images, product descriptions and product pages. Make sure to check out our library of whitepapers!

product descriptions whitepaper

Trust elements can also help you close that ROPO loop. Let’s have a closer look:

Build trust in your online shop

Building trust is always easier said than done. However, when it comes to ROPO, it’s one of the most important factors in getting your site’s visitors to complete a purchase with you.

Trust can be a bit of an abstract concept. Determining trustworthiness basically comes down to taking a calculated risk. You combine the evidence you’ve witnessed together with your gut feeling when you decide to trust someone or something.

The important thing to remember is that it is still a calculated risk. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the shopper is doing pulling out their calculators. It simply means that there are a number of factors that they look for when “calculating” trustworthiness.

7 tips to increase sales by building trust  Implement trustworthy elements in your online shop Download whitepaper

One of the most important factors for your website are customer reviews (both product reviews and service reviews).

Product reviews are often part of the shopper’s initial research stage. Assuming you display product reviews, that might even be how they ended up on your website in the first place – to research product reviews.

Service reviews may become a factor later in the customer journey. If they’ve decided that they might want to purchase the product with you, they very well may have a look at your service reviews.

Between product reviews and service reviews, you might think it’s simply enough to collect and display them. However, it’s worth noting that a higher number of reviews may bring you a higher score in both cases. That’s why it’s important to proactively ask for reviews. Often cases, if you don’t ask for customer reviews, the only ones who leave them are the ones who came to complain about something. By sending automated review requests, you can ensure that also happy customers are leaving feedback for you and your products.

That also brings up the important point of responding to negative reviews. It’s an underrated element to building trust. Many shoppers go out of their way to read negative reviews. If you make sure to respond to them (in the right way), it can actually showcase your brand’s customer service.

Trust can be built up in more ways.

You can include a trustmark or certification that has proven your trustworthiness through 3rd parties. Some of these trustmarks offer users a Buyer Protection (like the Trusted Shops Trustmark).

You can read more about the Trustmark here:

How does your shop qualify for the Trusted Shops Trustmark? Download whitepaper

But there are other simple things you can do to build trust, like:

  • having an About Us page
  • making your contact information easily found
  • using a chatbot to answer simple questions at any time of day/night


ROPO can be a challenge for many online shops. What’s important is to consider what effect ROPO is actually having on your shop, if you want to combat or embrace it, and how you can make your online shop inspire trust in your site’s visitors.

7 tips to increase sales by building trust  Implement trustworthy elements in your online shop Download whitepaper


Alon Eisenberg

Alon Eisenberg has been the Content Manager UK at Trusted Shops since 2017. He graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor's degree in Communications in 2004.

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