O2O Commerce: Evolution Of Retail Business

How E-commerce Brands Can Embrace O2O Commerce?

Imagine a scenario: your customer is scrolling through your E-commerce website, adding items to their cart, and getting excited about their upcoming purchase. But then, they start to second-guess their choices. What if the product doesn’t fit? What if the color is different than what they had envisioned? Suddenly, the convenience of online shopping starts to lose its allure. 

This is where online-to-offline (O2O) commerce steps in – a strategy that seamlessly blends the convenience of online shopping with the ‘touch-n-feel’ experience of in-store shopping. By embracing O2O commerce strategies, businesses can eliminate the uncertainties of E-commerce, drive retail sales and build customer loyalty in a quick span. In this blog, we’ll dive into the world of online-to-offline commerce and understand how it will revolutionize the way customers are going to shop in the coming days.

What Is Online-To-Offline (O2O) Commerce?

Online-to-offline commerce refers to a modern business strategy where you attract potential customers from online channels to your physical store in order to complete a purchase. In O2O Commerce, online shoppers get the best of both worlds (online and offline) via capabilities such as try & buy, in-store pickup, and home delivery.

The major goals of O2O commerce include: 

  • To ensure that your online and offline channels complement and not compete with one another 
  • To build better brand awareness across channels
  • To gather valuable customer data that can be used to improve marketing efforts and enhance customer experience

How Does O2O Commerce Work?

O2O commerce starts with online engagement, where customers search for products online, check their availability, and compare prices across different platforms. Then customers either place the order online and choose to pick up the product at a store or book an appointment online to personally visit the store and try the product before purchasing it. Either way, your online customers get the opportunity to physically experience the products before using them. 

Customers also get personalized service from the staff and a chance to clear all their doubts and apprehensions about the product. Additionally, some e-commerce brands also deliver products to the doorsteps of the customers, thereby boosting convenience even further.

How does O2O commerce works

O2O commerce business model benefits

Let’s explore some of the key benefits of the O2O E-commerce business model and understand why it has become so popular in recent years.

Reach more customers

By having an online presence, you attract one set of customers who prefer the convenience of E-commerce. At the same time, by creating an opportunity to complete the purchase from a brick-and-mortar store, you also pull those audiences who love to engage in a physical purchasing process that online shopping can’t provide. This automatically multiplies your reach and drives both online and offline sales. 

Pro Tip: In case you already have a strong web presence, motivate your consumers to shop in your brick-and-mortar stores by offering special in-store discounts and conducting events. 

Reduce shipping & logistic cost

In O2O, you offer your customers an option to research online and buy in-store, which eliminates the need for shipping. This reduces not only the cost of logistics, returns but also the risk of lost or damaged packages. Apart from this, you can use your physical stores as mini fulfillment centers, allowing you to use your existing infrastructure to fulfill your regular online orders. This can reduce the cost of warehousing.

Give shoppers what they want – the store experience

Despite the convenience of online shopping, many customers still value the store experience. In a store, you can provide a brand specific personalized shopping experience that enables customers to touch, feel, and try products before making a purchase. This is particularly important for products that require a more tactile experience, such as clothing, shoes, or home furnishings.

The O2O model also allows customers to get their products right away, which creates instant gratification in their minds. With online shopping, there is always a delay between the time a customer places an order and when they receive their product.

O2O commerce strategies retailers can implement

As the competition in E-commerce is heating up, retailers must adopt innovative strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Here are some effective O2O commerce strategies that you can implement to stay ahead of the competition

BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick-up In-Store)

By implementing BOPIS, you enable your customers to buy products online and pick them up at a nearby physical store. This is beneficial for both parties. Customers enjoy the flexibility to choose when and where to receive their products. They can select a store location and a convenient pick-up time that fits their schedule. For retailers, this strategy creates an opportunity to upsell customers on additional products when they visit the store to pick up their purchases.

However, you must provide clear information on your website about which products are available for in-store pick-up, as well as the time frame for pick-up. To make the process even smoother, you can offer a designated pick-up area in-store or even provide a curbside pick-up option.

Offer Appointment Booking

Allow customers to book a time to come into the store to browse products or receive expert advice from a sales associate. It provides customers with a convenient way to schedule their visit to the store, eliminating the need to wait in long lines or deal with crowded stores. This can be particularly appealing to those customers who have busy schedules and want to avoid wasting time waiting for assistance or finding the product they need. 

You can successfully implement this strategy by providing an online booking system on your e-commerce website. It is also important that you send confirmation emails or text messages with details about customer appointments.

Try & Buy/Home Delivery

In this, you allow customers to place the order online, try the products once they are home delivered, keep the products that they like, and return the rest to get a refund. Brands like Firstcry and Myntra use this strategy to drive growth.

Alternatively, you can let customers first research online, visit the physical store to try the product, and finally have their purchases delivered to their homes. This strategy can be particularly useful for those customers looking to purchase products that cannot be transported easily. Brands like Pepperfry, the furniture retailer, use this strategy.

In case you are providing the home delivery service, be upfront about the delivery fees and timelines and ensure that you have the terms clearly mentioned in your shipping policy.  You should also consider partnering with third-party delivery services or investing in your own delivery fleet to ensure that deliveries are made on time and in a professional manner.

In-store returns & exchange

This allows customers to return or exchange products they purchased online at a retail store location. This can be attractive to those customers who prefer the convenience of shopping online but want the reassurance of being able to return or exchange products in person. This eliminates the hassle and uncertainty of shipping items back to the retailer.

For retailers, this is a great way to increase foot traffic to their physical stores and create opportunities to engage with customers in person. By having customers come into the store to return or exchange products, retailers have an opportunity to offer personalized recommendations, suggest alternative products, and create a positive and engaging shopping experience.

Pop-up stores

Pop-up stores are temporary retail locations that are typically set up for a short period of time, often a few days or weeks. They are a great way to bridge the gap between your online and offline presence. Since they can be set up instantly with minimal effort, multiple pop-up stores can be installed, preferably closer to customer locations. You can showcase products and give an opportunity for the customers to try out the product in person without having to travel a lot. You can use the pop-up stores to collect valuable customer data and insights, which can be used to tailor future product development and marketing strategies. 

Invest in local SEO

Investing in local SEO can help retailers reach customers in their local area. By optimizing your website and online presence for local search, you can improve your visibility on search engines like Google and attract more foot traffic to your physical stores. You can also leverage local search platforms such as Google My Business to increase visibility and attract new customers. By creating a detailed and accurate profile on this platform and regularly updating it with relevant information such as store hours, contact information, and reviews, you can improve your local presence and attract relevant customers to your physical customers.

Examples of O2O Commerce Implementation 

Here are some examples of brands that have embraced O2O Commerce in recent years – 

Lenskart

Screenshot of Lenskart website

Lenskart, the popular eyewear brand, has a strong presence in both online and offline spaces. It is one of the early adopters of the O2O Commerce model. Besides letting customers place an order online, it also lets them try the eyewear at the nearest store by booking an appointment. The brand even offers various freebies and free services for all the customers who visit their physical store. Once the product is ready, customers will receive it at their doorstep. 

Online-to-offline strategies they used: 

  1. Try & Buy
  2. Offer Appointment Booking
  3. Home Delivery
  4. In-store returns and exchanges
  5. Invest in local SEO

Manyavar

Screenshot of Manyavar website

This Indian wedding wear and ethnic wear brand has also adopted the O2O model. On every product’s detail page, customers have the option to book an appointment to visit a physical store in person and try the selected product. This is a great strategy for a brand that sells clothes for special occasions, as every purchase has to be perfect in terms of fitting and appearance.

Online-to-offline strategies they used: 

  1. Try & Buy
  2. Offer Appointment Booking
  3. Invest in local SEO

Croma

Screenshot of Croma website

Croma is a retail chain that sells consumer electronics and home appliances. It operates both offline stores and an e-commerce website that offers a wide range of products. Croma offers an option for its customers to pick up their orders from a nearby store at a convenient date and time. This option is given at the time of checkout. Alternatively, customers have the option to book an appointment to visit the store to experience the product first-hand after researching it online. 

Online-to-offline strategies they used: 

  1. BOPIS
  2. Invest in local SEO

Bluestone

Screenshot of Bluestone website

This jewelry brand has also taken the O2O route to attract website visitors to its store. Bluestone offers multiple options to complete a purchase. You can either buy it online, visit the nearest store where the product is available, or book a home trial. On the product details page, the brand clearly highlights the different stores where the chosen product is available so that customers can visit, try the product, and complete the purchase. 

Online-to-offline strategies they used: 

  1. Try & Buy
  2. Home Delivery

Conclusion

O2O commerce offers a great opportunity for e-commerce brands to reach more customers, improve customer experience, and boost both offline and online sales. Although there are some challenges that come with implementing an O2O model, partnering with the right E-commerce service provider can make it a lot easier to overcome these obstacles. And that’s where ANS Commerce comes in. 

We are an e-commerce expert who takes care of the entire life-cycle of your e-commerce store. We have several specialists in-house who can help you plan, strategize, and implement the online-to-offline commerce model in your business. To talk to our O2O specialists, book a demo now.