Written by Gunalan R on Digilah (Tech Thought Leadership)
Many brick and mortar businesses have put new retail and omnichannel strategies on their agenda. The pandemic has pushed many consumers, like us, online. But yet, different sets of consumers still long for the in-store experiences.
On another note, companies, now, have to battle with a mix of high inflation, consumer behaviour and changing trends. With big brands like Walmart and Shopify laying off their workforce, there is a significant uncertainty in the retail industry.
That said, all sectors of the retail industry had embraced technology solutions to accelerate the pace of digital transformation.
For the many of our beloved retails brands, offline-to-online commerce (O2O) is the solution.
O2O integration is where retailers use online and offline to provide improved customer experiences. It’s a strategy to convert traffic from ecommerce into offline sales.
A report by Forrester notes that while online shopping is projected to grow to 27% of overall retail sales by 2023, consumers are rethinking the in-store experience – with 40% of adults in the US saying they enjoy shopping in stores less than before the pandemic.
A hybrid O2O retail model bridges the two channels with a single strategy – elevating in-store shopping with digitally-enhanced experiences, while providing enticing virtual environments online. As customers become more experience-driven, the gap between ecommerce and physical stores is further reduced, with completely re-imagined customer journeys.
Virtual shopping with live digital support
Online shoppers can be instantly connected to skilled in-store staff to explore products. Customisable web widgets for live chat, audio and video calls can be leveraged for instant customer service or virtual shopping experiences. These widgets can also be activated by clicking web links – which many businesses design in their branding as buttons or images on their websites, inviting shoppers to enjoy tailored shopping experiences.
Digital platforms connect customers to staff best suited to their needs, while delivering rich customer insights.
They can even follow up with the customer over their preferred instant messaging and social media channels for better relationship building – even sending special offers and deals exclusive to that customer.
Many of us know QR codes where customers can scan them for shopping, provide product information and make payments.
Another way is to bridge the divide between in-person and virtual environments through QR codes. This blends the O2O shopping experience. For example, sharing of QR codes in marketing campaigns and advertisements, or sending a message on your Facebook Pages can transform them into a powerful communication platform. Strong retail relationships can be built through live chat, instant message platforms, virtual number or video calls and more. A QR code linked to a cloud-based omnichannel solution can help you to build a 360° customer profile with minimal effort.
Humanising your brand to nurture customer relationships
Modern customers have come to expect almost immediate responses to their queries. If you keep them waiting, or force them to navigate through a complicated procedure to answer their question, you will miss opportunities and risk losing customers to the competition. Another key differentiator is quality of service – which the right technology platform can help with, through the power of data.
By building close relationships through on-demand communication, staff can give guidance to customers based on their unique preferences, habits and order history, ensuring a fully personalised journey. This is vital, given that 86% of customers cite an emotional connection with staff as a reason to continue doing business with a brand.
Inspire loyalty from existing and new customers by building a brand that they love through a total customer engagement platform.
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2 replies on “Opportunities with O2O Commerce (Online-to-Offline)”
A nice article and I share the same feeling with you 👍
I notice that some of the brand are still developing or driving customers to online shop.
A recent shopping experience at Kanebo, a Japanese cosmetics/skin care brand, it has some limited edition of eye shadows and it is out of stock at the physical stores. I was wondering any chance to get it from the online shop. And yes! I got that on their online shop. Obviously, the inventory are well organise for each sales channel.
Also, on the Kanebo global site, it has a virtual makeup section, it’s so interesting. But for brands in cosmetics or skincare industry, they still need to keep a minimal number of physical shops for all the ladies to feel and test on the product.
For sure, all brands are trying to maximise both online & offline customer experience.
Thanks for reading my article, Corinne. O2O commerce is a very unified environment. With proper online tools set in place, such as widgets and SMS notification, shoppers can remain connected to the wealth of merchandise information. The experience that you had with Kanebo is a good one.