The O2O concept is not new, rather it has been a buzzword for a few years now but in the last couple of years this concept has started gaining importance. In simple words O2O means online-to-offline where online channels are used to drive customers to the offline stores. The main aspect here however is to make this experience flow between the virtual and the physical channels seamless and impressive.
Below are three ways how retailers can use their existing resources to leverage O2O effectively.
Brick and mortar stores: By treating stores not just as sales channels but also as distribution centers, retailers can leverage their store network to satisfy customer needs by using store level inventory to deliver orders to customers’ homes as well as for click-and collect orders. With these new fulfillment options enabled by the store, consumers can click, collect and return goods as per their convenience. Modern day customers are demanding a better combination of value, convenience and experience and brands who strike the right balance between delivering great product value and offering superior customer experience and convenience will emerge as customer favorites.
Combination of channels: About a few of years ago retailers went about developing websites and mobile applications to expand their presence and some retailers also shifted to an online-only presence without having any offline stores since the trend seemed like the customer was increasingly going ‘digital’. Moreover running and managing brick-and-mortar stores were seen as an expensive and time consuming affair. But the modern day retailers have realized the need to go ‘omni-channel’ i.e. seamlessly integrating both their online and offline channels to enable customers to research, purchase, earn and burn loyalty points, and return, across channels. Brands focusing on getting their omni-channel right will definitely win the customer experience race.
Data Management: In order to get it right in omni-channel retailing, retailers need to manage their customers and inventory across channels. As customers randomly switch between channels while shopping it is imperative for retailers to ensure that the customer demands are satisfied, irrespective of the channel they choose. Here is where data management will help. Having insightful customer data such as past buying patterns and purchasing history, as well as accurate information of the product inventory and stock, and having all this available in near real-time will allow retailers to be proactive towards managing demands across channels effectively and thus mitigating chances of lost sales. Moreover profiling customers will also enable retailers to create and execute targeted promotions and campaigns to spike customer’s interest in the brand and thus boost sales.