Is it right to go O2O yet?
Into the History
It all started with the launch of the first ever web browser called WorldWideWeb in the year 1990. Not long after the release of the internet, in 1994, Book Stacks Unlimited opened its doors to its customers in the form of an online marketplace as www.books.com. With that, Amazon and eBay became the godfathers of e-commerce marketplaces and since then there is no stopping but the tremendous growth of online platforms had caused extreme discomfort for the brick and motor stores. They faced a hard time coping up with flexible and easy online marketplaces.
However, recently online platforms are observed to behave differently and build up physical stores for customers. This is a relatively new concept and termed as ‘O2O’ i.e. Online-to-Offline or Offline-to-Online model. It is a marketing strategy to entice customers and bring out the best customer experience. The term O2O was first coined by Alex Rampell CEO and founder of TrialPay. It is a marketing effort that influences shoppers to make purchasing decisions according to their convenience.
The notion has been broken about the online stores taking over the traditional stores, it has been a subject of relevance that both online and offline store complement each other. Their inter-dependability could only surge the brand to achieve greater heights. Indian online platforms like Nykaa, Pepperfry, Zivame , Urbanladder, are all big names that have opened up physical stores. Let us find out why?
1.Customer trust and Satisfaction- Even though it depends on individual preference and accessibility, people could rely on products that they have seen, touched and experienced. Reviews and ratings definitely add value to an online product but satisfaction arrives with physical impression. The companies realise that even though the existence of online platforms have been impactful, 80% of the purchase still happens in brick and motor stores. Based on this, their brand loyalty could be enhanced with enhanced customer experience through physical stores.
2.Generates revenue- In a Retail Dive Consumer Survey, it has been observed that two third of shoppers, research about a product online and tend to buy it offline, in brick and motor stores. The pattern has been generally noticed in young buyers who scout for trusted reviews and product descriptions over the internet and then prefer to buy offline. Based on this survey, brands have introduced in-store pick or return. The shoppers are provided with the luxury to initiate their buying journey online and finish it offline. The added advantage received by the company is, customers tend to buy extra things upon their visit to a physical store, thus generating high revenues.
3.Face-to-face customer service- We all have had bad customer service experiences while shopping online. Surveys conducted have unveiled that shoppers who face difficulty in reaching customer service executives for complaints and doubts are hesitant to shop from the specific online platform. This creates a bad impression of the company and thus loses customers. However, face-to-face customer service at physical stores is trusted upon. Shoppers also prefer receiving sales assistance and advice from the store assistants. This one to one interaction boosts sales.
After much debate, there is no doubt that O2O is one of the most popular and effective forms of business. It is a two way flow process that encourages the profitability of any business. With such prominent brands going the O2O way, there exists a considerable weight to this sales and marketing strategy.