May 5, 2022,CEST

How Phygital Retail is Changing the E-Commerce Landscape

For the longest time, the physical and the digital worlds were mostly separate and practically at odds with one another. E-commerce was largely viewed as a threat to its brick-and-mortar counterparts and reconciliating the two seemed almost impossible… until the pandemic reminded us that no one wanted to see physical shops disappear altogether. What consumers want is not to have to choose between the two, but to get the best of both worlds! Now embracing a Research Online-Purchase Offline mentality, they engage with the brands they love digitally all while enjoying an elevated in-shop experience, thanks to the phygital revolution.

Businesses are Going Phygital: Definition

What is phygital marketing? “Phygital” is a hybrid word derived from the combination of the terms “physical” and “digital”. The idea behind it is to create a seamless relation and bridge the gap between digital and physical shopping experiences. By going phygital – meaning developing your online presence while keeping a physical one – you can maintain a human connection and leverage advanced technology with no compromise.

From online shopping, to researching products, to engaging with the brands we love on social media, there is no denying that digital experiences are now a key part of our lives. Yet, no one is ready to give up on interacting with brands physically.

This is the exact reason why, despite how accessible and convenient e-books have become, people are still buying paper books as well. In fact, many don’t even choose one option over the other. Instead, they tend to use their e-reader for a quick access to reading material, and then splurge on a beautiful hardback edition of books they actually love. Similarly, consumers now expect to be able to browse the new collections created by their favourite clothing brands online and to get sneak peeks of what they are working on through their social media accounts. And yet, they still want to try the items on before making a purchase.

Phygital commerce aligns very well with this type of behaviour, as it focuses on meeting the true needs of consumers.

Bringing Sensory Experiences to the Digital World

Some have criticized our Internet-based habits for “numbing” us and getting us used to experiencing the world without relying on all of our senses and emotions. From a marketing perspective, this also constitutes a missed opportunity as sensory information plays a huge part in consumer behaviour.

Phygital retail promotes a more accurate customer experience by connecting the online and offline worlds and making both of these elements the very essence of your brand. Physical businesses no longer need to see the digital world as a threat. Instead, you can use social tools, your e-commerce platform, and other web-based solutions to personalize shopping and create fluidity between two dimensions. Through this approach, you can help people integrate a duality that they long to embrace.

Thanks to the phygital experience, the digital world breaks free from its own bubble and doesn’t have to be separate from the physical one. Consumers discover you, your story, your values, and your products online. They can enjoy connecting with you in a meaningful way through social media and feel at home once they explore your physical location. For example, they could pick a few products they would like to try on your website and find their selection awaiting them at a shop near them, saving them time and hassle during their visit. You could also identify where your customers are through online data and open pop-up stores where their engagement is optimal or set up relevant Click and Collect locations.

This logic also works the other way around. The phygital definition of an in-store experience could then be an augmented interaction with the products, for instance. Thanks to augmented reality, shoppers could gain access to more information about your products, receive promotional codes, order items to have them directly shipped to their home, etc.

Some Ideas to Boost your Phygital Transformation

Are you considering embracing some phygital commerce practices to elevate your customer experience?

Live Shopping: The Ultimate Phygital Retail Experience

Livestream shopping, interactive video shopping, personal video shopping, and shoppable videos are all great ways to improve online shopping. These phygital options offer the same support that users would get from visiting a store. E-commerce no longer means that shoppers are left to their own devices, with no personal contact or assistance. Instead, they get to enjoy a mobile, interactive experience.

Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store

BOPIS streamlines the in-store experience by allowing customers to come and pick up their order in person instead of paying an additional fee for postage and waiting for it to be delivered. This solution lets them enjoy all the benefits of visiting a store without the hassle of browsing through your entire selection or spending too much time at checkout.

Pop-Up Stores

Managing a brick-and-mortar location – or even several of them – comes with its own set of downsides, particularly for small businesses who can’t afford to pick the wrong spot. Pop-up stores can be used either to welcome your online community right where it’s the most active and engaged, or to create the buzz around a certain event and introduce your products to local shoppers. Inviting them to discover a new range of items and meet your team for a limited time is a great way to leverage FOMO!

Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality

AR and VR apps make for amazing phygital shopping experiences. They allow users to interact with your products virtually before committing to a purchase. A clothing retailer, for instance, could assign a QR code to every item in their shop and let shoppers “try them on” thanks to a camera filter.

Phygital solutions allow brands to consider the perspective of the shoppers and to align with their expectations more closely than ever. By combining the benefits of both the physical and the digital world, you can create shopping experiences that will set you apart from the competition. The future is not in an all-dematerialized approach to interacting with your customers, but in finding new, elevated ways for them to get to know you and your products.