Remember when shopping was strictly brick and mortar? The new millennium introduced business concepts and market trends that were unheard of before widespread use of the internet. It started with E-commerce, went social with F-commerce and revolutionized how to raise resources through the shared economy. Now a fairly new term referred to as “ROBO” is starting to gain popularity in the marketplace. This word is an acronym for “Research online, buy offline” symbolizing the collaborative relationship between tech and consumer. How has ROBO influenced the behavior of customers and what does this mean for marketers in the 21st century?
Although it seems that humanity is consumed by the world wide web, 90% of America’s transactions are still made offline. However, when it comes to verifying the claims of available products and services, shoppers frequently search the web for answers. Similar to a private investigator, buyers surf the net reviewing countless pages of consumer-generated content (CGC) in the form of reviews, blog articles, and videos. After weighing the options and deciding on the best choice for their needs, consumers will proceed to a local provider to make the purchase.
With standard state of the art features among smartphone holders, shoppers partake in ROBO easily and effortlessly. People can now simultaneously browse the aisles of retail outlets while reading consumer reviews on items currently in stock. Within minutes, shoppers make an educated decision on which item to go with thanks to some brief yet accurate online research. Market analysis confirms that nearly 40% of in-store shoppers read online reviews prior to buying an item. The top 3 categories researched online are appliances, electronics and automotive. Businesses should not underestimate the power of CGC given that shoppers are likely to contribute more in-store based on the outlet’s credibility seen online. In fact, for every $1 of online revenue influenced by CGC, its content influences at least $4 of in-store profits. This shows that online research can be a powerful vehicle to influence customer behavior and why marketers should take advantage of ROBO shopping.
A solid online presence with valuable product information could increase the frequency of in-store sales. Business owners should closely administrate their website’s reviews along with online business catalogues such as Yelp, Manta and Google Places. Proactively being involved with these platforms are essential and demonstrates a deep appreciation for customer feedback. In the case of receiving a negative review, professionally respond in a timely fashion to ensure that viewers know customer satisfaction is top priority. Also, evaluate whether price-matching or other in-store offers is a viable option for your business. This could possibly turn an online researcher into a loyal in-store customer.
ROBO has become the norm in business settings and revolutionized how consumers make shopping decisions. With the help of CGC, customers have access to a plethora of data from previous buyers allowing those still on the fence to quickly go one way or another. Business owners and larger corporations can maximize their in-store sales by investing more time in ROBO ensuring a positive online reputation. The collaboration between technology and commerce is still very much in the honeymoon phase allowing plenty of time for the relationship to expand and mature. By acknowledging the significance of ROBO, business entities can strategically position their online presence to work in their favor.