Yesterday The Great Wall Club hosted an event themed Online to Offline or O2O at the co-working space, Garage Café in Zhongguancun. This new strange acronym is the latest emerging trend, following LBS (Location Based Service) and SOLOMO (Social, Local, Mobile).

So what is O2O? The definition may vary, but essentially it means attracting users online and directing them to physical stores in the offline realm. Some would argue, this is nothing new and many websites have been targeting people online to bring them in offline, but the element of online payment is what really makes O2O powerful. Why? Because businesses can measure the impact of online sales since a payment was actually made.

The group-buying or tuango model has been the most hyped and recently successful example of how O2O can work. However, many of yesterday’s speakers slammed the group-buying model because many players enter the market due to low barriers to entry, compete heavily on price and sell to un-loyal price sensitive customers that will switch from merchant to merchant, looking for the best deal, ultimately hurting the merchants. Now that many group-buying sites are quickly dying from simply a marketing channel disguised as something else, the next trend of O2O with a focus on service and value will emerge.

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Jason Lim

Jason is an Australian born Chinese living in Beijing, specializing in entrepreneurship, start-ups and the investment eco-system in China, especially in the tech and social area.