Tunnel between online and offline

O2O is defined as Online to Offline. The term was first used by Alex Rampell, CEO and founder of TrialPay in a 2010 TechCrunch article. He wrote: “The key to O2O is that it finds consumers online and brings them into real-world stores. It is a combination of payment model and foot traffic generator for merchants (as well as a ‘discovery’ mechanism for consumers) that creates offline purchases.”


Do you think that growth of e-commerce outpacing the growth of physical stores? Well, the answer is Yes and O2O platform will be the perfect solution under this kind of circumstances.

“Store traffic has also been gradually declining over the years and physical stores struggle to convert shoppers as consumers easily research competitive online and offline offers on mobile devices.”

It is no doubt that online offers are often more attractive than offline offers as retailers do not need to pay rent or any other costs arisen from a physical store. However, the market is demanding for the offline experiences which can’t be replicated by online shopping. The feel of touching the products, trying on the apparels, getting the personalized touched and service from the retailers and many more, it’s the “feel” that is not easily be replaced. This is why retailers can look for some ways to direct online consumers to physical stores. One of the approaches is to engage in an O2O platform or any platform that offers O2O services.

There are many O2O platforms out there but not truly “O2O”. Why I say so? It is because most of the platforms are normal e-commerce platforms which offer online shopping and delivery. The true meaning behind O2O is that it brings online consumers to physical stores. However, e-commerce platforms nowadays mostly provide consumers with online shopping experience but not directing them to the brick and mortar stores. Consumers often make their purchases and payments online then wait for their products to be delivered. They do not need to visit the physical store at all.

It is not difficult to define O2O, simply put this simple equation in mind,

O2O = Order/Purchase Online + In-store pick up

They important point of O2O is that retailers to showcase their products online, consumers to purchase online and then pick up/enjoy the products and services at the physical stores.

Apart from retail sector, O2O could also be applied to outsourcing of workforce. We can easily name one or two that are currently in the market i.e. Upwork and Freelancer. These platforms are true O2O platforms that provide workforce for those who want to hire or vice versa. Even the hottest app in town, Uber is using the O2O concept as consumers order and pay online, then enjoy the service offline.

The concept of O2O can really help those brick and mortar stores to boost their traffic when it is applied wisely.

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