The fact that many South Africans are doing online research before making in-store purchases led to the launch of Guzzle, an online pre-shopping portal that lets retailers upload their product catalogues for users to peruse before making any decisions.
Most major retailers are tired of hearing how online marketing can boost their businesses – but using pre-shop websites and placing catalogues online is perhaps one of the most effective options for making a transition to the digital environment.
There are already thousands of South Africans pre-shopping on the Internet, and Guzzle estimates that about 40 per cent of all in store purchases are now influenced online.
Google calls this the ROPO effect (research online, purchase offline). In 2012, the overwhelming majority of offline purchases still includes some online research component. But ROPO isn’t a trend that will die off as digital consumer culture continues to evolve: Google estimates that offline sales influenced by online research will grow 12 percent this year, while online sales will begin to flatten out.
This trend prompted the launch of Guzzle in 2011, taking advantage of the increase in pre-shop behaviour. Guzzle’s goal is to become South Africa’s leading pre-shop portal and its two hundred thousand customers are spending an average of six minutes, or twice the industry average, browsing the site each month.
Users can search more than 20 000 products that are on promotion from major retailers, listed by category, catalogue or retailer. Product information can be printed and consumers directed to the nearest store, using geo-targeting.
Retailers wanting to list a catalogue online do not have to go through the hassle of setting up their own systems all they need to provide is a catalogue in PDF format. The Guzzle team then makes it searchable to the most relevant consumers.
At the moment Guzzle does not charge retailers to list on the site, but down they will pay based on site clicks or interactions, which represent interest and intent to purchase. Online catalogues are not a substitute, but rather as a complimentary marketing channel.