I think eCommerce for many years was an interesting trend, but it was on the side, largely, of what was happening in retail. Today we don’t even know what eCommerce means. They’ve just come together, the online and the offline. Now, every merchant, every retailer must have an OmniChannel strategy or they won’t survive. – Devin Wenig, President, eBay Marketplaces
Today’s shoppers are always connected. They want to browse Online, research Offline, chat with a sales associate in the store to add to their knowledge, touch and feel the merchandise in the store, pay from an e-wallet, get the purchase delivered home, picked up from a store/nearby location, reserved at a location of their choice and enjoy same or near same day delivery.
Source: Forrester Consulting Research
Customers expect convenience in shopping and flexibility in order delivery like never before. In this scenario, OmniChannel is no more an option for Online brands; Omnipresence is an immediate imperative.
O2O (Online to Offline) can provide Online brands the means to provide a seamless experience to their customers, across multiple channels, like mobile apps, online store, etc. and brick and mortar store as well.
In an attempt to establish touchpoints for customers to touch and feel their merchandise, Online brands and marketplaces are going Offline. The touchpoints can be in the form of collection centers, express retail stores and vintage locations, e.g. shopping malls
Interestingly, Online brands and marketplaces are trying various means to court customers including:
These are fulfillment options gaining popularity with online stores and shoppers alike. They allow a shopper to buy online and then collect the purchase from the store. Retailers like Argos etc. are not considered as competitors anymore, but partners in a win-win strategy.
The Offline – Online – Offline continuum throws up multiple collaboration opportunities for the entire ecosystem.
In both the scenarios the key to facilitating this is having a real-time view of the inventory in the partner store and integrations of store systems with eCommerce system to ensure they have this information.
There are many shipping platforms today which facilitate item handling, customs management and local deliveries in multiple countries which allow you to sell on your web-stores or on marketplaces. Already, many SMEs use this model to sell extensively across continents. Cross-border is poised to grow and the smart multi-channel retailer will exploit the opportunities to collaborate with 3PLs and marketplaces to grow their revenues.
How can Technology help you achieve O2O transformation?
A typical Online brand (eTailer) makes investments in the following systems:
While the respective building blocks are best of the breed in their domain, they are not geared to meet the functionality/flexibility required to support additional sales channels. Thus, Some of the key areas to address include:
The basic requirement for enabling offline operations is to collaborate with retail chains or setup your own kiosks/small stores. The next step is the implementation of different pieces in the O2O suite to ensure a smooth integration with ERPs, 3PLs, store systems, eCommerce front-ends, and/or marketplaces.
Vin eRetail O2O Suite, with its ready integrations with 75+ leading global web stores, marketplaces, and last-mile fulfillment companies, provides a complete set of solution to enable the online to offline transformation.
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