Online-to-Offline Marketing

Big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning are no longer a utopia, but a part of reality. The digital “future” is rapidly entering our daily lives. Along with it, consumption habits are changing, and modern businesses are trying to catch up with this technological rhythm.

Everyone wants to attract a new customer and keep an existing one: small Instagram pages and online stores, global luxury brands and large retail chains. When online marketing is so clearly crucial for business success, the importance of offline marketing is easily forgotten. However, the collection and inclusion of offline data in a marketing strategy will increase profitability through a better understanding of customers and their behavior in the real world.

Online-to-Offline Sales

In Online-to-Offline (O2O) sales, companies need to view their online and offline marketing channels as complementary, not competing.

  • A customer makes a purchase online and collects it from a physical store;
  • Returning an item purchased online to a physical store; 
  • Online shopping while visiting a physical store.

The importance of such interactions was proved by Amazon when they acquired Whole Foods. The company invested more than $13 billion in the purchase, realizing the undeniable reality that when it comes to consumers, despite all the attractiveness of devices and digital services, most sales still take place offline.

76% of consumers who search for products or services online end up visiting the physical store and many of these visits lead to purchase. Spotify estimates that in 2021, more than 80% of retail sales will still take place in physical stores.

Based on statistics, it’s clear that an effective marketing campaign cannot afford to ignore an offline strategy. Let’s look at a few ways companies can optimize their marketing activities:

  1. Offline that complements online

Buy-and-collect shopping is a popular retail trend. 70% of customers choose to order products online and collect the purchase from a nearby store. This simple marketing technique is directly related to the consumer’s desire for instant gratification.

Today, many stores use this technique. When placing an order, the buyer is given the option of choosing courier delivery for tomorrow or the day after tomorrow or picking it up from a point of sale within a couple of hours after registration.

  1. The potential of immersion technology

Augmented reality allows users to try and test physical products in the digital world, combining overlapping realities with an interactive interface.

Last month, Gucci added a virtual fitting room for sneakers to their mobile application. The program works on the same principle as Instagram filters: you point the camera at your feet and select the pair you like from a list. The result looks pretty realistic.

  1. Personalization with the help of Data Insights

The average customer will not complete the purchase until they see an advertising message a couple of times. The number of impressions varies, but the point is clear: companies need to stay in touch with the audience. In the competitive field of online business, this is getting harder.

Offline marketing campaigns may suffer when companies make the wrong choice based on assumptions rather than reliable information. However, new technologies for collecting and analyzing big data are already available. For example, a digital receipt service was launched not long ago. The system collects data on the purchases of offline buyers, helping to create more effective advertising campaigns. There is also an additional opportunity to combine the data on buyer’s behavior in the store with their online behavior.

Digital transformation is the main focus of most companies, and it is understandable that many people prefer to pay great attention to online marketing. However, despite the desire for digitalization, companies must remember that they still sell to people. People care about communicating with brands and are looking for satisfying experiences. In many cases, this means visiting physical stores to shop.

Marketing specialists need to look for ways to make their online and offline channels complement each other so that their campaigns work in synergy. Using new technologies such as data analysis, store apps, and digital receipts can enhance the personalization.

Companies that are based on traditional principles and customer-oriented will be able to strengthen their reputation both on the Internet and in the real world, which will ensure customer loyalty necessary to increase the effectiveness of their marketing strategies.


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