What do you prefer more? The guilty pleasure of shopping online or the enthralling experience of live purchasing… This is 2019 and more than 40% of shopping and grocery in America is done through the luxury of a smartphone. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say, that within five years, all physical stores will also create virtual shopping carts and electronic modes of buying and payments.
When compared to the experience of the offline world, the current online world comes with a number of cons. Despite the effortless luxury and convenience, many customers believe engaging live with the product, scanning its quality and experiencing the service it offers, can certainly not be availed when you shop online.
What is O2O?
O2O or Online-to-Offline commerce is a business marketing strategy that finds customers online and brings them into the physical world to make purchases. It uses various techniques such as online marketing, emails, internet advertising, and social media to identify their target customers in the online space. It then approaches to convince them to shop at physical stores.
Some examples of O2O include:
- Click and Collect – A tactic where customers shop respective products online and then collect them from the store
- Shopping online during a physical visit to the store
- Returning already purchased online items to a physical store
According to retail giants Amazon, 76% of customers who search for products and services online usually end up visiting respective stores in their local area. They have also invested a whopping 13 billion$ in this acquisition because they understand the psyche behind O2O shopping. After all, despite the fascination with smart devices and home-deliveries, most sales still occur within the premises of physical stores.
How does O2O Commerce work?
The main objective of introducing online-to-offline commerce was to create product awareness online and then entice customers to research various offerings and visit the local or near-by brick-and-mortar store to make purchases.
When the e-commerce trend began to spread unexpectedly, retailers fretted over the position of offline shopping and its future. Unlike online shopping, physical stores don’t have the advantage to offer a wide selection of goods since they have to deal with the high costs of renting and employees to run the stores. Online businesses, on the other hand, can easily offer a huge variety of services without having to pay for employees and store rent.
Companies who have both a physical store and an online presence fully utilize both the channels rather than as competitors. The goal, however, is to attract the type of customers who are open to visit the local stores and experiencing the service themselves rather than waiting for the package to arrive at home.
How Can Companies Optimize the O2O Experience?
As the worldwide B2B Marketplace develops stronger, many brands who aren’t fulfilling consumer demands are struggling to keep up with the competition and falling behind. Customers nowadays not only expect an exciting shopping experience physically but also demand the same from e-commerce stores.
There are several ways to enrich the customer experience by making use of both digital technology and physical workstations. This will not just create better shopping experiences but also prove to be more profitable in terms of business.
Find out four ways that you can implement to optimize your online and offline marketing activities:
1. Turn most of your Online Activities into Offline
One of the biggest known trends in retail shopping is click–and–collect. More than 75% of customers all over the world take advantage to order their favourite products online and later collect them from a nearby store.
This simple technique not only gives them the privilege to shop from their smartphones but also instils an instant gratification that they can get the product without having to wait for days. Lastly, it also encourages more customers to visit retail stores, interact with the shopping staff and indulge in impulsive buying.
2. Use Latest Technology
Many businesses nowadays use Augmented Reality so users can test and experience digital products live in physical stores. This motivates them to visit stores more frequently and involve themselves in an interactive experience.
3. Use Data Analysis to Create Brand Awareness and Personalization
According to the Times, an average customer won’t shop your brand’s products until they have been exposed to your marketing content seven times. In most cases, the number may vary.
While brand messages can sometimes be annoying, they can also be a great tool for communicating with your customers. In a market, that is now fully crowded with brands and excessive competition, it can get difficult for new brands to make their way out to customers.
In such conditions, companies must utilize data insights to find creative ways to reach to their target audience. They can use their previous shopping patterns, most searched products, and their liked brands on social media to find out what customers prefer more. Businesses with the help of digital marketing agencies, aim to form a bond with customers, in order to make them visit stores and do purchases based on their interests.
4. Prioritize Smartphones
An average human being spends an estimate of 4.5 hours on his smartphone every day. Despite how alarming it is, we know the trend of smart devices isn’t going anywhere. Make sure to connect more with your customers on smartphones. Introduce apps, internet marketing, social media and mobile-friendly campaigns where you can get more attention from the youth. Even for offline shopping, offer various discounts, scan-to-options where customers can walk into stores, scan products, pay through their phones and avail discounts.
Despite all the hype about digitalization, companies must keep in mind that they are still selling products to humans. While most people prefer to stay and home and shop, others still crave for connecting with brands and create memorable experiences.
Marketing managers must look for ways to incorporate both offline and online channels into their marketing campaigns. They should make use of innovative technology, personalization and beacons to offer faster and better services.