Key trend for 2012: Online meets offline

Submitted by Anonymous on Wed, 11/23/2011 - 12:15 in

The rise of the mobile phone and more recently the tablet computer has led to people being online, anytime, anywhere. New technologies and applications, such as mobile internet and QR codes change the way we act. These developments also have their effect on the payment industry. Payment solutions are increasingly tailored to the mobile phone. New services are born with which online players also aim to secure their place in the offline world. Traditional offline processes are increasingly done online.

This all feeds into the main trend of the integration of the online and offline world. We can distinguish two forms:

  • From online to offline

    Online business used to be an industry on its own, all done digitally. Online companies would maybe extend their business to other digital areas, for example from instant messaging to search and from email to news. However, they all stayed within their digital world. Recently this has changed. 

    Ebay for example has secured its place in the online world as the leading player in P2P shopping. Recently they entered the physical world by opening a virtual, physical store in New York. The ‘store’ provides a display of a variety of products. Scanning the products’ QR codes brings the consumer to Ebay’s mobile shopping page where the items can be purchased. Similar stores in other cities such as London are expected in the near future.

    Not only is Ebay’s shopping moving to the streets, its payment arm PayPal is also moving offline. In its vision for the future (see Youtube video here) PayPal sees multiple ways in which shoppers use PayPal to pay in the store; by viewing cloths offline and buying them in the webshop, in receiving coupons via QR codes or by paying at the counter on a digital PoS, all using the Paypal platform.

    Another online giant, Google is now moving offline with the launch of Google Wallet. This mobile payment solution lets you pay with your mobile, both online and at the cash register. In addition it offers added value in couponing and loyalty (for consumers) and enhanced marketing (for merchants).

    In general, the shopping experience is mostly online, through the online merchants and service providers you already know and trust. However, parts of the buying and paying process are moving into the physical world.

  • From offline to online

    In the early days of the internet and online shopping the first traditional players moved online and went from simply being an extension of the physical store to web shops in their own right. Over the years this integration has become ever more sophisticated. Nowadays we see numerous examples of initiatives that move multiple physical processes to the online world.

    Tesco’s Homeplus in South Korea is a reference case for the whole industry: the company created a Virtual Subway Store by making virtual aisles of grocery items in the subway environment that look very similar to real aisles of a supermarket. The items can be ordered with the mobile phone while waiting for the train to arrive, and be delivered after work. It is a great success, significantly increasing revenues. See this Youtube video for more information.

    Another example of an industry that is changing is the restaurant business, which used to be based on placing your order with the waiter and paying in cash. Now the Rabobank initiative MyOrder, for example, enables the users to place orders on the mobile phone at participating restaurants, bars etc. Restaurants are also starting to use the iPad to present the menu and take orders. Initiatives like Square and iZettle enable restaurant bills to be paid on the iPad or mobile phone. In addition, traditional PoS-systems are slowly replaced by (tablet) computers with online payment systems, such as PayPal.

    In general, the experience remains offline in the sense that you are still bound to your location to act, however the processing is increasingly done online.

The integration of the online and offline worlds is only starting. You can resist and try to fight back, like BestBuy declining to display bar codes to deter mobile price comparison. However, the change is inevitable, so it’s better to accept it. Think of the nature of your own service. How is it affected by the current developments? How can you use the trend to your own benefit?  Be inspired by the success stories above.

  • Want to know more about the integration of online and offline, and how it affects your business?, BBP and Innopay invite you to the ‘Online Betaal Congres 2012’ on March 6th 2012 (Dutch). The theme of this years’ event is ‘Online meets Offline’. For more information on our conference see


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