Have you heard about O2O? Experts are touting it as the next big thing in e-commerce. Simply put, O2O means ‘online to offline’ commerce. O2O is used by smaller and more local businesses who want to drive more sales, and involves the use of online marketing to get attention for a brick-and-mortar business.
The O2O phenomenon is a welcome one to many, as until now, small physical businesses were largely at a loss as to how to make use of the internet to increase both their exposure and their sales.
The Benefits of O2O
O2O offers businesses multi-pronged benefits. Before, a physical business would have to rely solely on offline advertising methods to bring customers into its location, completely ignoring the exponentially-growing online community in the process. But now, O2O allows any small and physical business to gain exposure online.
An interesting facet of the O2O phenomenon is that it can enlighten local residents to businesses of interest that are very near to them, which they may not have known existed before. And for businesses, this type of commerce can easily track how well their local advertising is doing, as well as their popularity online.
Having an O2O platform also means that your business can be reviewed by customers. This in itself has multiple benefits; it keeps all of your business practices transparent, which keeps you accountable to your customers.
As well, the comments from customers can be like gold. Because comments often address a specific aspect of the business, owners can know exactly where improvements need to be made, and which areas of the business are thriving.
Examples of O2O Commerce Opportunities
A lot of buzz has been generated lately about sites like Groupon and Quibids. Both sites allow consumers to bid on offerings from local businesses. This could be a book of coupons, a high end product a trip, or anything that generates excitement among interested customers. These sites themselves fuel a growing demand for online shopping, a phenomenon that sees the average ecommerce shopper spending about one thousand dollars per year.
Although physical sales – where a customer walks into a store and makes a purchase – still far exceed online sales, the popularity of O2O is skyrocketing, and this is being driven by the consumer. Each day sees more consumers discovering the ease and convenience of shopping using O2O. Most consumers enjoy O2O because it doesn’t require a long wait time to receive a product. This is because they can look at the web sites of businesses and compare prices online, and then redeem their savings at a local store.
While sites like those mentioned above offer products and services for several types of offline businesses, there are also O2O sites dedicated to one industry. Two good examples of these are sites like Restaurant.com and SpaFinder, which cater to those looking for deals in one industry only. Consumers can visit these sites and browse every single establishment in their area, something that can offer much convenience in a big city with many choices. With a few minutes of browsing, a consumer can know, almost instantly, which restaurant is best suited for an event such as a date and is most likely to offer the type of food and price desired.
It’s interesting that, in the 1990s when e-commerce became mainstream, many predicted that physical storefronts would be no more. Yet today, consumers still comb their local malls and independent shops for deals on everything they use. Technology and the physical storefront have appeared to reach a level of peaceful co-existence with the advent of O2O technology.
Citations: O2O Methodology for local business
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Guest author Sandra Peck enjoys writing on a variety of topics, particularly related to technology. She recommends internet providers in Portland as a resource for comparing options available.