According to research by Statistia, the U.S. has about 223 million social media users as of 2020. These figures reveal a massive potential that business owners can harness to drive customers to their stores. The latest business model, Online-to-Offline (O2O) Commerce, can help spark a consumer journey that begins on their devices and ends with a retail store sale.
What is O2O Commerce?
O2O Commerce is a strategy designed to move potential customers from online platforms to brick-and-mortar stores. It works to create a seamless digital experience before, during, and after every purchase. The goal is for brands to build a powerful web presence that can motivate consumers to visit their physical locations and eventually buy their products.
By combining online and retail store marketing techniques, brands can reap the benefits of both business models.
Think-With-Google Research reveals that 61% of shoppers prefer to buy brands with an offline and online presence. It is a crucial insight into the importance of O2O Commerce in creating highly competitive businesses. The cutthroat retail industry is teeming with millions of players. So, it’s vital to engage with as many potential buyers as you can online while providing them with the best in-store experience.
Now that you’ve gotten familiar with the concept of O2O, you can check out the six things you must consider before you begin developing your online-to-offline commerce strategy.
What You Need to Consider for Online Commerce
- Online security
Businesses and consumers are both concerned about the security of online transactions. Potential buyers are wary of revealing their personal and financial information online, especially to unestablished e-commerce shops. On the other hand, companies are worried about data breaches and payment fraud that impact their operations.
For everyone’s peace of mind, it would be best to utilize a secure payment system that ensures the shoppers’ and your company’s data privacy. Get the services of an online payment processing provider that has a good track record and top-notch customer support.
- Online marketing and traffic
Online marketing is quite a tricky endeavor, but it can generate tons of traffic and sales if done right. Before you begin, check out what the competitors are up to and find out what makes your target audience tick.
You can use the data from your market study to determine which approach is best for your business. You can utilize a wide array of marketing strategies, including social media, digital PR, and email marketing.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is also a vital online strategy that can lead potential shoppers to your website or social media account. You can outsource or hire an SEO expert to maximize the use of search engines and links for your brand’s benefit.
- Customer support
It can be frustrating for shoppers who have questions or complaints to wait before they can talk to someone. Consumers will appreciate brands with online customer support that they can contact anytime. AI chatbots are also a viable solution that can answer customer inquiries 24/7. The chatbot can direct any complex issues to a live agent who can give more detailed and accurate information.
You could also be proactive in your approach to providing potential customers with the information they need. You may create an explainer video, FAQ page, or a product spec sheet that your customers can return to any time. It saves you and the buyer time and allows you to focus on other revenue-generating tasks.
What You Need to Consider for Offline Commerce
- Store staff
When opening a brick-and-mortar store, you need to decide on the following staffing concerns:
● Who manages the physical store
● Who manages your brand’s online presence
● How many people are required to operate the store
● How many hours will the staff need to work per day
These factors will help you determine your active participation in your offline location. Whatever role you decide for yourself, make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew. Managing one place is already challenging, so it would be best to delegate other tasks to qualified employees.
- Fire protection system
Fires threaten the safety of the physical store’s staff, shoppers, inventory, and equipment. Brick-and-mortar businesses must have fire safety measures in place to avoid fire accidents and minimize the damage when it occurs. The following are the basic fire protective measures every store should have.
● Alarms: These can alert the people inside the store if there is a fire. You can also install a fire monitoring feature to alert the fire department if the store is closed.
● Extinguishers: These are a safety must-have in any store, especially for those selling flammable items. Make sure to place them in easy-to-locate places within the store.
● Sprinklers: These devices can protect people as well as prevent further damage to inventory.
- Inventory management and logistics
It will help your operation a lot if there’s a point-of-sale system that can update inventory in real-time and adjusts automatically. An automated system will prevent any inventory overlap between your offline and online stores. It can also save time and effort organizing your products and their deliveries.
On the other hand, to help you lower logistical costs, you could apply the BOPIS strategy or buy online, pick-up- in-store. This model enables shoppers to browse your products any time they want and still visit your physical store. It’s a great idea to dedicate a space inside the shop to store items that have already been sold on your website.
O2O is the Way to Go
An online and offline presence allows business owners and consumers to have the best of both worlds. An O2O model can expand your brand’s reach and transform eCommerce users into physical store shoppers. It also provides customers the convenience of shopping online any time of the day while still having the chance of inspecting the products at the store.
Maintaining an O2O model may be challenging at times. It would help your operations if you’d apply online and offline safety, digital marketing strategies, and adequate inventory and logistics management. Having top-notch customer service and a solid organizational structure can also be keys to a successful O2O venture.