Research online, buy offline

insights  May 3, 2018

Research Online, Buy Offline (ROBO) is a trend in consumer buying behaviour where customers research relevant product information to pre-qualify their buying decision, before they actually decide to buy their favourite product in-store. To assist their buying decision, they utilize consumer generated content like reviews, blog posts and video’s online[1]. This fundamental shift in consumer behaviour asks for an omnichannel approach whereby online sales complement the offline sales and vice versa.


The focus point are the consumers and their experience with the brand


The ongoing rise of people researching products online and buying them offline, and the growing use of mobile use requires the implementation of an omnichannel strategy. In this strategy, an organization provides many channels that are aligned with one another. The focus points are not so much the different channels, but it’s rather about the consumers and their experience with the brand. Consumers do not experience any difference between the different channels and this should ensure that the digital and in-store experience seamlessly merge.

For example, a consumer sees an ad for a product on social media. Then the consumer visits the website, where the product can be found, and they read reviews to qualify their buying decision. To actually purchase the product the consumer goes to the physical store. In this way, they can first check if the product meets their requirements. The consumer buys the product at the store and receives the bill on his smartphone.


Consumers are spending an increasing proportion of their time online. Partly due to the advent of the smartphone, it’s made easier for consumers to do research on a product before actually buying it. The smartphone can be seen as a bridge between online and offline. Research shows that 93% of consumers use their smartphone while shopping[2].


The importance of product reviews is increasing in current buying behavior trends. Research from Bazaarvoice shows that 45% of purchasers read reviews before purchasing a product in-store[3]. In particular, products belonging to the categories; appliances (59%), health, beauty and fitness (58%) and toys and games (53%) are being researched online before being bought offline. Customer reviews are found more reliable than information from seller itself[4]. It even turns out that 80% of consumers find online reviews as reliable as personal recommendations from friends and family[5]. In addition to the fact that customer reviews are useful to consumers, it also gives etailers important insights into how a product or service is experienced.

Research online, buy offline ensures that the line between online and offline shopping continues to blur. Etailers have to respond to this and it is therefore imperative to have accurate and consistent information across all channels.

[1] MarTech (2016). ROBO: How Today’s Shoppers Research Online and Buy Offline.
[2] Deloitte (2016). Global Mobile Consumer Survey.
[3] Bazaarvoice (2017). The ROBO Economy: How smart marketers use CGC to influence omnichannel shoppers.
[4] Madia (2017). 3 redenen om ook via online marktplaatsen te verkopen
[5] Emerce (2017). Online reviews verzamelen: acht reviewsites vergeleken.


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