Online-to-offline strategies, otherwise known as O2O, have been gaining rapid momentum in the affiliate marketing industry over recent years.

Many may think that this trend is on the decline since COVID-19 sent people around the world into lockdown and rapidly increased the rate of online consumption. Though there is a reason behind this line of thinking, as the 2020 peak shopping period approaches and consumers around the world move through various stages of lockdown, there’s evidence showing that retailers need to now start exploring O2O strategies again.

A recent consumer study by Rakuten Advertising revealed that 57% of global consumers have indicated that they will shop both in-store and online this peak shopping season.

Purchase Channel

For retailers, particularly those with a brick-and-mortar presence, the indication by consumers to shop across multiple channels means they need to consider how they can create seamless online-to-offline (O2O) experiences for their shoppers.  What’s more — the most influential purchasing drivers among holiday shoppers in the US include an immediate need for a product, which was second only to a sale or an offer. This means that retailers that implement O2O strategies that enable shoppers to find products that are available near them gives those retailers a competitive advantage over those that don’t.

What is an O2O strategy and how does it work:

O2O technology enables progressive retailers to bridge the gap between online and offline sales, by connecting with consumers and driving them to purchase regardless of where they choose to shop.

Traditionally, O2O technologies have created a clunky experience. Thanks to advancements in technology, particularly with cardlinked offers, the game is changing.

Cardlinked offers employ a cardlinking technology that allows consumers to link their credit card to specific offers via a platform provider and redeem those offers at a store location. Publishers are rewarded when the consumer’s payment card network communicates the transaction.

Why implement an O2O strategy:

  • Connect the consumer experience: Though 2020 has shifted the way people shop more than ever before, there are still many consumers (54% globally) who want to purchase primarily in-store. Regardless of where a consumer purchases, they will remain savvy and be looking for the best deals and offers to make their money go further. Enabling those who purchase in-store to utilize the same promotions or cashback incentives as though shopping online, also encourages a person to purchase through a particular retailer.
  • Brand loyalty: Consumer expectations are changing, and shoppers expect to receive promotions and discounts and to be rewarded for their loyalty to a brand or retailer. According to our New Rules report, 49% of global consumers are most influenced to purchase based on the availability of cashback. To drive brand loyalty regardless of where a person chooses to purchase, retailers can leverage O2O technology and cardlinked offers to enable cashback to both in-store and online purchases.
  • Measurability: One of the many benefits of affiliate marketing is that everything is measurable. Now imagine taking that granularity and applying it to in-store purchases. O2O strategies make this possible for retailers. O2O leverages digital marketing campaigns and effectively measures these against in-store sales, enabling retailers to report based on a holistic campaign view. Strategically, it builds an all-encompassing user journey and enables the testing of different incentives based on a retailer’s goals.
  • Unique insights: Many retailers still view online and in-store in silos or even as competing business units. Instead, retailers should be using the data and unique insights from one to fuel the other. By employing O2O strategies, retailers can leverage geolocation data to build remarketing campaigns based on in-store activity. Additionally, the rich transactional data available through cardlinking provides audience segmentation features ensuring that the advertiser can reach the right audience, with the right product. These unique insights allow retailers to target their consumer better and create compelling offers and promotions.

As the 2020 peak shopping period approaches, developing strategies that drive O2O sales will be more of a priority for retailers. Retailers who reward customers regardless of where or how they choose to shop will be setting themselves up for success during the busiest period of the year.

To find out more including how your brand can leverage O2O partnerships, reach out to your Rakuten Advertising account representative or visit https://rakutenadvertising.com/.