Over the past 20 years, online shopping has evolved from an anomaly to a tremendous force in the retail world. Using sites like Amazon and Wayfair, customers can purchase items they need quickly and easily and have them appear on their doorsteps in days.
However, online shopping does have its drawbacks. For instance, the possibility of generating more revenue from an online shopper is limited for retailers. Online shoppers usually have an item in mind when they shop and are therefore less likely to browse around like they would in a store.
Online shopping also displaces the personal aspects that an in-person shopping experience provides. There’s no one-on-one conversation with a chatty salesperson and no opportunity to try on clothing or flip through a book before making a purchase.
Nowadays, companies are trying to bridge the gap between online and offline shopping to create a new experience: online-to-offline commerce.
Online-to-Offline (O2O) Commerce: A Definition
Mauricio Vianna, CEO of MJV Innovation, a consulting firm to Fortune 500s on customer experience, explains O2O as a marketing strategy designed to encourage online consumers to further their shopping experience at their local retail store.
O2O combines online sales strategies with an in-person experience, encouraging virtual shoppers to put down their devices and visit the retail location of the store they’re interested in patronizing.
It’s important to distinguish O2O from an omnichannel strategy.
Omnichannel involves communicating with a customer online and offline through different platforms. O2O is different; it specifically encourages shoppers to visit their local shop in person.
O2O can occur in one of several different ways. Let’s look at a few examples.
Buy Online, Pick-Up In-Store
Some companies encourage a streamlined shopping process where customers place orders online and visit the closest store outlet to pick up their purchases.
You’ll commonly see this system with grocery stores that allow you to select products online. An in-store salesperson will gather and bag your items, saving you time and reducing impulse buys.
However, this method isn’t limited to just grocery stores. Other retail outlets, such as Best Buy and Macy’s, provide similar experiences.
Purchase Online And Return In-Store
Sometimes, someone will make a purchase online only to find out the product doesn’t suit their needs. When this happens, they have