Fast food chains are increasingly using online as a means to attract and acquire customers to their offline cafes & joints. While pizza lovers are being enticed for their favorite slice, ice cream and other QSR joints are not too far behind. Not just restaurants but for all consumer products, it is becoming critical to create the brand & product awareness online and entice customers to shop offline. In the digital age, online to offline (O2O) commerce is the new buzz word and brands across business verticals are effectively using online space to promote their offline network asset.

A Gartner Survey says 98% marketers believe that online and offline marketing are merging. It simply implies that offline businesses with brick and mortar space will have to embrace online business strategy in order to stay ahead in this competitive world. While a typical e-commerce business model on the hand, will have to venture out on offline space to offer touch & feel to its customer and break online clutter.

What is O2O commerce?

O2O commerce can be defined as a business strategy that attracts potential customers from online channels to physical stores. O2O reached out to potential customers in the online space, through emails and internet advertising to entice them to come to offline space. This type of marketing strategy incorporates mix of techniques used in both online and offline model.

Best of both worlds

The biggest advantage of O2O model is that it can leverage both online and offline channels and operate as an integrated multi- channel business. Offering best of both worlds, O2O offers online convenience with offline experiences in a practical & useful way.

The split between offline and online model is visible currently but future lies where offline and online wont be tow separate entities. As more and more brands and retailers move online, both the channels getting converged at very fast pace.

Pumpkart.com was one of the early movers in this space. One of its kind ventures in the world, Pumpkart offers a wide variety of water pumps and related stores through its O2O store and portal. Realizing the importance of fast converging virtual and real world, Pumpkart was quick enough to add an offline space to offer an appropriate mix of multiple channels to its customers.

Future of O2O in India

According to a recent Goldman Sachs report e-commerce sector is poised to grow at a 41% CAGR between financial years 2015-18. One of the undisputed mainstay of the Indian economy, it is evolving at a fast pace.

Retailers and marketers are increasingly realizing the need to reach out to potential customers at multiple touch points. The divide between online & offline space is getting merged. While e-commerce is rising steadily in India, the future of e-retail lies in O2O as a significant number of Indian consumers still prefer the touch & feel aspect of offline business. O2O commerce has already disrupted and revolutionized the Chinese retail market and now it is poised to change the dynamics of Indian retail segment.