folder Digital Marketing

Online To Offline Commerce: How To Take Advantage of Retail's Trillion-Dollar Opportunity

calendar 2021-10-20 | glass 8 min read | user Ricky Hayes
Retail's Trillion-Dollar Opportunity
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During the 2020 quarantine, I've been itching to go to the mall.

I longed to shop around and have a look at the new Nike release by the front display.

I miss the instant service.

I'm not the only one who felt this way.

After four months of lockdown, residents of Sydney, Australia filled the streets. There were long queues outside pubs and shops.

Clearly, you can't replace the experience of in-store shopping.

Have a look at the following stats. They show that retail stores aren't going out of business anytime soon…

And the best of all…

The above stats show that retail businesses aren't going anywhere. If anything, they are only going to rise manifold in the upcoming year. That's why many famous brands have adopted online to offline commerce (O2O) to boost their sales. Amazon and Walmart are just some of the brands that adapted to O2O. 

Now is the time that you embrace it, too.

In today's post, I'll explain:

  • What is an O2O commerce strategy?
  • What are the benefits of turning online traffic into offline sales?
  • Strategies to increase foot traffic and sales at your physical store.

So, without further ado, let's start…

What Is An O2O Commerce Strategy?

What Is An O2O Commerce Strategy?

An online-to-offline commerce strategy brings customers from online channels to physical stores.

 O2O strategy includes:

  • Offering customers to pick up the products they ordered online.
  • Buying products at brick and mortar stores.
  • Allowing customers to exchange or return the products they purchased online.

This also means upping your O2O marketing technique. Using your current online channels can also bring potential new customers to a brick-and-mortar store.

The main goal of an O2O strategy is to convert your online audience into physical buyers.

This brings us to a fascinating question:

"Is the O2O business model beneficial today?"

Let's discuss the answer to this in detail below:

Benefits Of O2O Business Model

Benefits Of O2O Business Model

1. Gives Better Access Of Products To Customers

Online stores are fantastic. But some benefits are only available in a brick-and-mortar store. For example, a customer has to rely on images and descriptions to buy online shopping. But, that's not the case in physical shopping.

The customer can hold the product in their hand, feel its texture, and even try it out. If they have any concerns, they can ask the sales team right then and there.

So, if customers are hesitant to buy the products online, they can visit your retail store. They can check the product, clear their doubts and then buy it from you.

And then… They can take the products home, and no need to wait for the delivery.

This brings us to our next O2O commerce benefit, which is…

2. Removes The Delivery Process

Imagine it's 6 in the morning, and you are out of coffee pods. What will you do?

  1. Will you place an online order for the coffee that you'll get the next day?
  2. Or will you go to your nearest store and buy it?

Like you and me, people will not place online orders for things they urgently need, and they will go to the nearest retail store and grab those items.

This arrangement is a win-win situation for both the customer and the business. The business sells its products without arranging for delivery. Meanwhile, the customer doesn't have to wait for the product; they instantly have it.

O2O business models enable the businesses to…

3. Reach More Customers

By using an O2O commerce strategy, traditional retailers can attract more people to their physical stores.

Suppose you have a physical shop. Do you think every person that passes by your store will enter your store and buy the products? Nope!

But, they will visit your store if you have an online presence. More than 85% of people use the internet to research products, and they use search engines and social media to find out more about the product they want to buy.

People will quickly find you if you have a website and a strong presence on social media platforms. They can learn about your business's physical location and visit you.

Another benefit that businesses can avail of is…

4. Save Money On Logistics 

ECommerce logistics become complex as your online business grows.

But with an O2O commerce strategy, you can cut down your logistical costs. The buy online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) model can help you regionalize your inventory. You can assign an area of your physical shop to store products that people have bought online.

Doing this will allow you to cut down your reliance on 3PL (third-party logistics) partners. You can also offer your customers the same or next-day pick-up option. And this would be possible as the products will be available in the store.

Let's now move on to the part where we will discuss how you can adopt an O2O commerce strategy for your business.

Techniques To Adopt Online-to-Offline Commerce

Techniques To Adopt Online-to-Offline Commerce

1. Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)

Famous companies like Amazon and Walmart have also provided this facility to their customers.

People can use the business's website to browse the products. They can place their order on the website and then collect it from the store once it's ready. 

This feature provides ease and convenience to buyers as well. They don't have to wait for a long time to get their products. Plus, they are happy that they don't have to pay the delivery charges. 

Customers love the BOPIS service. In fact, 75% of them have used this service in the last few months.

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store (BOPIS)

Another technique for adopting O2O commerce is…

2. Invest In Local SEO

Optimizing your SEO improves your ranking on Search Engine Result Pages and helps you get more traffic at your store.

If you want people to discover you, then you must invest in local SEO. So, when people look up for the stores to shop, your business appears.

For instance, people often search for places like Restaurants near me. If you have a strong SEO, Google will show your brand to your potential customers. 

The simple way of doing that is by creating a Google My Business listing for each of your store's locations.

Include the open and close timings, categories, pictures, parking information, etc., in the listing. You can even ask your customers to add a review to your listing. Positive reviews will entice people to visit your store.

Not only that, but Google My Business also gives you insight about your customers. It provides you with key analytics, including how visible your store is and who your target audience is.  

Needless to say, it also helps you rank higher on the search engine and Map results.

The 3rd strategy on the list is…

3. QR Codes

People and mobile phones are inseparable. People spend around 3 hours and 43 minutes daily on their cell phones.

You can use this opportunity to blend online and offline commerce with the help of QR codes. These codes look like barcodes and can be easily used in crowded areas of your store — for example, checkout desks, parking areas, trial rooms, etc.

 Customers can scan the code at the physical store to:

  • Use the online checkout.
  • Collect their online orders (BOPIS)
  • Earn loyalty points for in-store shopping
  • Review a product
  • Scan the product to exchange or return it

QR codes save both the customer's and the business' time. By scanning the code, the customer can buy, review, checkout, or return the items without waiting for a single minute.

The next technique is to...

4. Offer Easy Returns

Did you know that 30% of all online orders get returned? Whereas only 8.89% of orders get returned in physical stores.

The high return rate in online orders is because people cannot physically inspect the product online. Thus, if the product is not up to the customer's expectations, they return it to the brand.

There's very little that you can do to cut down order returns. But what you can do is offer easy in-store returns and exchanges for your customers.

A recent study states that 92% of customers will buy again from a brand if it offers easy and hassle-free returns.

It shows that offering easy returns at the store will attract more customers to your online and physical stores. Hence, inform your online visitors and customers that you provide easy returns to increase sales.

The last strategy is…

5. Offer In-store Promotion 

Prioritizing your customers first is one of the most effective O2O marketing techniques.   

It's the easiest way to drive traffic to your brick-and-mortar store. All you have to do is announce sales or promotions in your retail stores. 

The best way to do so is by sending emails and SMS to your customers. Entice them to the sale: lesser prices, deals, bundles, etc. These are things they won't find in your online stores. 

People love to avail of sales and discounts, especially when it's in-store. They get to buy their favorite items at lesser prices, and they can also indulge themselves in retail therapy.

Get The Best Of Both Worlds – Online and Offline In 2021...

There are endless opportunities for you to combine your online and offline commerce. By complementing both of the commerce, you can keep your customers satisfied and increase your profits.

If you are still thinking about adopting the O2O strategy, remember this:

Companies like Amazon, Walmart, and Alibaba also use O2O commerce for their business. If it's suitable for these retail giants, it's going to be good for your business too.

Hence, use the above techniques to deploy an O2O strategy for your business.

And don't forget the most crucial thing for O2O commerce, which is:

Providing a seamless shopping experience to your customers at your retail and online store. Train your staff to give customers a remarkable experience at your store.

And for providing a fantastic experience at your online store, you can use Debutify for your online store. 

Debutify is fast, responsive, and easy to use. Plus, it has over 50+ add-ons that ensure that your customers don't leave your website empty-handed.

Give A Mind-Blowing Online Shopping Experience To Your Customers With Debutify.

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Written by

Ricky Hayes

Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify - free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies and mentoring programs.

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