The term O2O was once more popularly referred to as online to offline, a business model meant to bring prospective customers from online channels to make purchases to the physical store.
In essence, consumers research products and services that they are interested in - gathering information such as trends, reviews, or price points - what they then found online tend to heavily influence their decision to buy. On average, it takes 79 days of online research before shoppers head out to the store. This concept is driven by impatience. Once consumers have made up their minds, they want their items on-hand fast.
As the world experiences the sweeping disruption caused by the Coronavirus pandemic, O2O is increasingly being adopted as Offline to Online. This is accompanied by the temporary shut down of the majority of physical stores for an unknown period of time.
Such circumstances prompt an inevitable change in consumer shopping patterns. Hence, we see entrepreneurs carry out innovative ways to leverage emerging digital solutions to move their offerings online.
Ingrid Thompson of Healthy Numbers is a business consultant who works specifically for clients in fitness and wellbeing.
She shares that it has been very difficult to manage everything.
“Some business owners have been paralyzed by the shock of what has happened exacerbated by the fear of huge rent payments and baffling technology. As many of these studio owners are women, they have the additional demands of homeschooling their children.”
“What’s interesting is that the ones who have responded quickly have truly kept their clients engaged.”
“It surprised me that a lot of my Pilates clients are older people. Pilates is especially appealing to older people as they improve balance, strength, and rehabilitation.”
“While it would be easy to think that older people might not be keen to move their sessions online - the opposite is in fact true. With just a little extra help, many older clients are loving their Zoom Pilates classes with their favorite instructors.”
Guiding in Your Pocket is a new virtual initiative launched by Girls Guide Victoria which aims to give parents of young girls aged 5-17 years a plethora of valuable online resources, providing opportunities to learn from and engage with their peers from home.
Girls Guide Victoria, a girl-led guiding non-formal educational program is based on shared leadership and decision-making at all ages.
Janelle Howell, Girl Guides Victoria State Commissioner, said that the swift move to guiding online, made available from March 29, is essential in keeping the community connected at this challenging time.
“While we’ve had to put a pause on our face-to-face meetings, due to the current social distancing regulations, it’s now more important than ever that we keep our lively community spirit bustling through Girl Guide Victoria’s new virtual hub.”
Girl Guides Victoria TV-Hub will release weekly episodes, which will provide learnings on each of their program segments – Arts, Life Skills, Outdoors, Service and STEM.
Those without internet access can still take part in paper-based versions of the program available.
“We see this is a necessary investment in our community, our girls and our future”, Janelle added.
Amber Budd Peterson, is the CEO/founder of Amber Budd Skincare, a US-based spa which typically does in-person services. Back in November, her team had launched MyEsthi, a mobile app that has proven to be especially helpful right now.
“MyEsthi lets you meet with a licensed beauty professional to help navigate your way to a routine that will create great change in your skin rather than going to a big box store and getting a salesperson to help you.”
“Online presents the challenge of not being able to see people's skin to really make great recommendations to help them achieve their goals. I developed our app specifically for that - we have a beautiful user interface and the video call feature allows us to see the client, and spend time getting to know them, which in turn allows us to make the right recommendations for them.”
Amber says that her business is going very well and that what she has been learning and experiencing has been a time of great growth stretching mentally.
“We have really wonderful and knowledgeable estheticians doing consultations on the app, and we will be launching the Apple (iOS) version in about 2-3 weeks. (we started with Google Play, and really ramped up production of iOS when we had to shut down the spa just over a month ago)”
“Our clients still need great skincare, and many have more time to commit to their routines now, so we are hearing that people are seeing the best their skin has ever been. It's great to be able to keep people working right now, in an industry that is heavily affected by the shutdowns, we were able to pivot pretty seamlessly due to the fact that we already had the Google Play version available.”
“Now all my events have been canceled. I have gone online to provide trivia night, private Zoom parties, comedy nights and even a kids magic show.”
Kathy Edwards is an event planner. She is the owner of “Steppin Out Events” which specializes in organizing events for singles over 40.
“I didn’t expect my business to go online. It wasn’t even considered an option for an event planner to have online events. That would be crazy, why would my members want to talk and meet each other online when they can turn up at one of my functions. But then everything changed overnight and I had no venues, no members and no business clients.”
One of Kathy’s biggest challenges was lack of knowledge on the online world, “ I had only just joined Facebook to open my business. I wasn’t savvy at all in the world of e-commerce.”
“I have had to learn along the way and of course made mistakes as I go. It has been very surprising the results I have already achieved in a short amount of time. I have private online parties for singles over 40 and the reach of members I am able to have at these events is something I never could with my other events. I have farmers in isolated rural communities in NSW to members of Phillip Island in Victoria. The ages range over 30 years and several nationalities. I have been truly blown away by the raw heartfelt brutal honesty of this group of people. The outpouring of stories and the appreciation for the outlet to voice who they are and what is going on in their lives. The support, empathy, love, and passion given by people in a group of strangers.”
Since successfully maneuvering online, Kathy also launched a Facebook group initiative called “Save my café’ order takeaway”. The Save my Café’, Order Takeaway Campaign is open to any food business who has been impacted by the current events. The idea is for everyone to support them today, so they can open tomorrow.
“Any successful business plans to succeed, you don’t just jump in without considering planning and research and have a ‘see how it goes’ attitude. But this was the case for all the businesses like mine who never foresaw an online world in the future for their business.”
“After this has settled and I can hold events again. I plan to put something into place for mature-aged singles in our rural communities. At the moment it saddens me that these people who are the souls of Australia are at a record high for depression and suicide rate. Imagine if I could bring them something to look forward to a new way to meet a friend, companion or even someone special. To have a group where they can log in and say, “how was your day mate, how are you traveling”. How Australian is that! Can one action make a change, I’d like to think so!”
“Due to COVID19, the automotive industry needs to apply social distancing more than ever.”
“Within Hello Gova we work in the automotive industry, especially with car dealers, that are not totally at ease with online marketing/business.”
“They used to build a well-located shop in the city to increase their visibility directly to the customers driving by.”
Vianney Puydupain, the CEO of Hello Gova commented, “time is changing and clients want more neutral advice to be sure they get the car fitting to their needs. They look for car expertise, right away.”
Thanks to Hello Gova Artificial Intelligence, Vianney and her team is able to help professional car dealers to reach these drivers looking for their new cars.
“Hellogova.com is an AI developed to gather 25 years of automotive car experience within a unique digital experience. So we help people find the car that fits their needs, for free in a 5 minutes process, while staying at home.”
“We have faced multiple challenges during this innovation, such as creating a unique brand with a customer-centric method, building technology starting from customers’ needs, focusing on User Experience and User Interface to boost customers satisfaction and conversion rate, adapting our strategy, processes and tools to the car dealers we are working with, facing partners’ decision tree and processes, and lastly creating Hellogova’s community and traction.”
“Obviously, a pandemic does not facilitate business, but we are on a winning long term strategy.” Among their major learnings, Vianney says is “to be honest with yourself and others, to always start empathy and finally to create a product by iteration - from leads' needs to customers’ satisfaction - always. Don’t hesitate to ask for help and do all you can to make life easier for your partners. Above all, nothing is impossible, it just needs time, focusing and bravery”
Artists, producers, makers, and designers come together as they move from their successful face-to-face events to a virtual market to stay open amid challenges brought about by COVID-19.
Perth Upmarket is one of Australia’s biggest design markets, offering custom gift wrapping along with purchased goods as well as free shipping nationwide. The team had recently concluded a 3-day online shopping event and is back again with Virtual Upmarket for Mother's Day.
Justine Barsley, Director of Perth Upmarket, commented that the idea for a Mother’s Day Virtual Upmarket came about with the increased recommendations for Mother’s Day gift.
“Our participating designers, makers and producers realize that everyone across the nation is going through a challenging time.”
“It is harder for those who are after special gifts to thank and cheer up their mums during this tough time, to find something different and unique.”
“As a local small business and art entity that’s always focused on delighting and supporting our local community, we hope our unique gifts and efforts help important events such as Mother’s Day remain special and memorable.”
Changes bring forth opportunities for growth.
If there’s something to learn from the past winners and losers of the corporate arena, it’s that the biggest threat businesses face does not come from a worldwide crisis, it’s from failing to innovate.
Adapt quickly, provide value, and be where your customers will find you – position your business to emerge stronger tomorrow.