With the GMIC (Global Mobile Internet Conference) 2016 going down this week in Beijing and O2O (online-to-offline) having been such a conference-defining subject last year, there is a great deal of buzz again this year on the subject, especially with the Chinese equivalent of ecommerce giant Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN), known as Alibaba (NYSE: BABA), having confirmed its $1.25 billion investment in the rapidly growing food delivery service Ele.me early last week. This is a big move by the Chinese ecommerce titan to grow its footprint in an (increasingly vital for retailers) O2O market that currently dominates much of the retail horizon in China and was valued late last year by HSBC at around $150 billion-plus on a mere four percent internet penetration, even as the online segment of this market jumped 80 percent YOY to around a third of that figure in the first half of last year alone.
Seen by many analysts as a counter play to Alibaba rival Tencent’s (OTC: TCTZF) sizable foothold in what is the merged result of China’s top two “local deals” outfits, Dianping-Meituan, which Alibaba divested its $900 million stake in – the Ele.me deal could be BABA’s ticket to locking down the brick and mortar side of the equation via O2O. Food delivery to residences is a model that has been a long time coming, but revolutionary O2O platforms that let traditional retailers with a physical location tap into the burgeoning internet/mobile traffic space around them could be just the rocket engines needed for the model to finally reach escape velocity. O2O could provide the kind of tight customer engagement needed to seal the deal and BABA is banking on localization to keep the costs down. At any rate, Alibaba is likely going for a sole source play here, one that could see the company end up owning startup Ele.me, and so it makes sense to look at the broader O2O space given such auspicious events/timing.
Customer engagement is the core of the entire O2O puzzle, but it’s a tricky animal and it requires the right mix of features for the consumer and the retailer alike, if one is to get the implementation truly humming. That’s why a company like Moxian, Inc. (OTCQB: MOXC) is so interesting in this space right now, where the majority of the players are conventional retail and online services like Alibaba, who are branching out. As a startup with the proprietary apps, platform/server access methodologies and virtual currencies needed to make it all happen, which cut its teeth and put the entire framework through its paces in Asian markets, Moxian is in the pole position when it comes to exploiting the ongoing Chinese O2O surge. With a strategy to geographically target prime metropolitan areas and leverage boots on the ground sales forces in Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai, Moxian’s story is an extremely compelling one.
Without the trappings of the other sector players, who are encumbered by legacy service architectures, Moxian is able to focus on simply growing the number of merchants in its platform’s network, ensuring that its Moxian+ User App and Moxian+ Business App (for Android and iPhone) remain feature-rich, and that the kind of high-value big data needed for premium business analytics is generated. By providing consumers with a robust social networking toolset that allows them to easily search for things like friends, interest groups, profiles and topics, as well as chat/share within social circles, all via a framework that also allows them to find nearby merchants using geo-location and earn spendable virtual currency (MO-Coin and MO-Points) or other rewards through gamified content, Moxian is able to also offer brick and mortar retailers ready-made access to the largest mobile-using population on the planet.
With nearly a mobile phone for every person in China (around 95 percent market penetration as of 2015), retailers have to be crazy not to tap into the virtual channel and drive traffic to their stores. The good news is that Moxian has made it all too easy, with a unique SCRM (Social Customer Relationship Management) toolkit available via the business app that covers everything from automated data capture-driven analytics and user-base profiling to loyalty/customer retention program development and advertising. Customer engagement tools like notification pushes, online marketing efforts and even online payments round out the package and create a closed-loop O2O ecosystem based on logistical realities and social interactions. The company even provides consulting services to retailers who are new to dealing with the ecommerce and social media ends of the spectrum, and who want to get it right.
With the rise in China of novel online entities such as the hybridized Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) and Twitter (NYSE: TWTR)-like microblog social network, Sina Weibo, owned by Sina Corp. (NASDAQ: SINA), which is trouncing majors like Baidu (NASDAQ: BIDU) and Tencent at around 86 percent microblogging market share (based on the highly correlative metric of browsing time), it is very clear that Chinese social media is every bit the ever-changing and unstoppable freight train that it is in the U.S. and Europe. Understanding how important O2O will continue to be for brick and mortar, which still constitutes the lion’s share of all retail transactions, is essential for investors who want to ride the wave.
Moxian is in a good position here to exploit the underlying trend with its proprietary technologies, an expertly crafted approach to the space driven by field-based leg work, and the potential to set itself up on multiple revenue sources (merchant fees, advertising, consulting, virtual currency sales, etc.). Investors should keep an eye on the company for mounting merchant subscriptions as it rolls out its sales footprint throughout this year. O2O services like those made available through group-buying sites like Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) and other platforms that offer tangible, real-world deals on products, or events like concerts, movies and restaurants, are gaining favor every year with consumers – even as social media becomes a more and more prominent part of our lives.
For more information, visit the company’s website at www.Moxian.com