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The 30th of January saw the third E-Commerce Class of the year, organised by the Selangor Information Technology and E-Commerce Council (SITEC), drawing 73 attendees to the Selangor Digital Creative Centre (SDCC) to learn about O2O and omnichannel retailing.

Coach Adrian Oh

Coach Adrian Oh, co-founder of ECInsider, started the session by explaining the concept of new retail and omnichannel retail, pointing out that there were numerous ways to conduct O2O, which can mean online to offline, or offline to online.

O2O can encompass transport, services, booking/ticketing, daily deals and general retail – services and products are ordered online, and either delivered to the consumer, or the consumer will redeem the service or product at an offline store or location.

This logic was adopted by Walmart Stores Inc., who changed their name to Walmart Inc., in an effort to be ‘channel agnostic’ – by courting business outside of the physical retail space and within the digital domain too.

“O2O goes both ways, with the physical store serving fulfilment, and the Internet serving as the platform. What connects these and makes O2O possible is the payment gateway as a core connector,” explained Oh.

Benefits of Moving Online

There are benefits when a brick and mortar store ventures into e-Commerce and omnichannel retailing. Not only is expansion easier, but wider audiences can be served with minimal cost increases of between 5% to 20% the cost of opening a new store. It also makes it convenient for customers loyal to a brand to shop online.

Businesses will also be able to transcend geographical and importantly, logistical boundaries.The most complete product catalogue can be put online, as there are virtually no limits to the amount of SKUs that can be uploaded onto an e-store. Conversely, product placements take up prime retail space in physical stores.

It is also easier to cross-sell or upsell, as well as clear old or existing stock through the use of promotions or firesales online. Product varieties are more easily discoverable, offering an in-store pickup would drive more foot-traffic there.

No Lines, No Checkouts, No Registers. Yes, Really.

Oh discussed the case studies of US-based eyewear chain Warby Parker, which went online and who offers products that are unique to certain stores to further drive traffic; and Amazon Books, which employs several tactics that drive store visitors online instead.

Alibaba’s Hema shops in China, as well as Amazon Go shops in the US use cameras and allow customers to simply  walk in, pick up goods, and walk out. Facial recognition and AI technology recognises customers and the customers’ e-wallets are automatically deducted for their purchases.

Watch the video below to see Amazon Go in action!

Jess Chong, marketing manager of Datatree Solutions, spoke about the company’s solution for e-Commerce accounting, whereas Sara Dalina, Co-Founder of Daun.com.my, spoke about her online shop selling indoor plants within KL and Selangor, providing tools, care, maintenance, and customer support, while increasing awareness about plants being air purifiers, with a free re-potting service provided with every plant purchased.

Sara offered several tips to budding e-merchants, reminding them about the red ocean versus blue ocean mentality. The former is when entrepreneurs choose to either go into a hypercompetitive environment, whereas the latter is where they find their business niche and avoid the bloodbath altogether. Also mentioned was how the sharing economy can actually help some businesses to start and grow at a very low cost, offering her own experience taking Uber or Grab to deliver plants, or for the re-potting service.