Online to offline commerce is a business model that draws potential customers from online channels to physical store. Over the years, this idea has evolved with the evolution of e-commerce industry. Currently, e-commerce companies are highly investing in online to offline marketing strategy, in order to reap the benefits of Omni channel strategy which was designed to enhance customer experience. Few of the e-commerce companies having both online presence and offline presence are using two different channel as a complement to each other. The idea behind online to offline e-commerce model is to create awareness of product and services, allow potential customers to search different offering online and then purchase the product in brick and mortar stores. The online to offline e-commerce have attained new heights in the recent past with e-commerce companies making their presence in hyper-local service category, online booking of movie and passenger tickets, and booking restaurants. Recently, market has witnessed e-commerce players slowly and gradually launching their own brick and mortar stores and vice versa. In-fact, e-commerce companies which are merely a marketplace (platforms) are now establishing their delivery centers to enhance customer experience.
In online to offline model, a consumer searches for the product online but purchases it through an offline channel. For instance, a local store, which restraints to sell online because of the discounting nature of online marketplaces, finds this model lucrative. Additionally, there are few products that consumer want to explore online, however, due to the dynamics of certain products and its associated price, especially in the category of jewelry and electronics products, consumer prefers to buy product offline. ”Touch and Feel” factor is driving the online to offline commerce market.
Irrespective of these facts, the road ahead is not as smooth as it seems for e-commerce players, as the e-commerce industry is facing challenges on multiple fronts. As e-commerce is relatively new industry as compared to brick and mortar stores, the majority of online retailers lack digital marketing skills and do not have a proper governance structure to operate.. This has led to certain significant challenges in the e-commerce industry especially, in the emerging economies where consumers who want to purchase a particular product, explores it on a particular online platform and eventually purchase it from a different well-established brick and mortar store.
Asia-Pacific region holds the largest market opportunity for online to offline e-commerce business models during the forecast period. Increasing penetration of smartphone and growing internet infrastructure in the countries such as China and India are paving the way for the growth of online to offline commerce market. Significant private venture capitalist investments to the start-ups in this regions has led to increased expenditure on marketing and promotional activities with an aim of acquire customers, which would facilitate customers’ loyalty and in turn customer retention.
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Alibaba Group Holding Limited, Amazon.com, Inc., Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Flipkart.com, and IKEA are some the key players of global online to offline e-commerce market.
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