After being cooped up for months and months, customers are looking for connected experiences. Customer journeys where the physical and digital coexist – more than just a digital experience. And when properly understood, phygital solutions offers companies ways to create previously unimagined experiences.
Customer Experience in a physical store is about bolstering emotions that influence purchasing decisions and customer loyalty. But technology allows companies to enhance the online shopping experience with increased efficiencies across touchpoints. So, a phygital strategy aims to connect your customers’ online and offline experiences seamlessly, creating more authentic interactions that will boost sentiment towards your brand and increase sales.
Digital adoption has increased exponentially in the past decade, at the same time a demand for exceptional customer experience has also grown. And the COVID-19 pandemic drove a speedy adoption of digital channels across industries, but McKinsey indicates that “(t)he industries most vulnerable to the loss of digital consumers may be those that saw the biggest gains in digital adoption during the pandemic”. Quick adopters were likely able to adapt during lockdown, but the digital channels they opted for, were possibly not as well-thought-out as other more established strategies.
So if companies want to hold on to their newly acquired online audiences, they need to improve their digital experiences – invest in phygital – and commit to holding the customer at the centre of everything they do.
Phygital is a portmanteau of physical and digital and is a marketing term that describes a combination of digital experiences with physical ones. Also referred to as omnichannel customer experiences; phygital experiences bridge the disconnect between channels and aims to reduce customer frustration. By connecting channels and creating a frictionless experience, a customer can, for example, make a phone call, then send an email, and communicate on a social media platform without the company losing the thread of the communication.
But most importantly, it is key to offer phygital experiences rooted in the daily online and offline practices of your consumers. In many industries, consumers miss interacting with people and the personalised service available in store, and that is why there is a real need to bring together the best of online and brick-and-mortar experiences.
For example, for a retail phygital strategy to work, it must combine the best elements of the eCommerce experience – like immediacy and immersion – with the best parts of shopping at a store, the chance to interact with the product and knowledgeable staff. This kind of 360° approach is especially efficient when trying to reach the demanding, hyper-connected consumer – typically Millennials and Generation Z.
Shopper behaviouralist Ken Hughes, remarks that “Generation Z really has grown up inside a fantastically technologically advanced society where everything’s possible with technology”. He also notes that the main difference between Gen Z and Millennial consumers is the merge of the digital and physical realm; Millennials were exposed to omnichannel midway through their lives, but the Gen Z shopper grew up in an omnichannel world.
From small initiatives to impressive concepts, any business can take advantage of phygital tactics to better connect with their customers – online and offline – and to create more authentic customer experiences. Just take a look at the phygital experience offered by Le Petit Chef:
Locally, retail giant Shoprite is testing an automated Checkers concept store with no cashiers, or till points – similar to what Amazon and others are doing around the globe. This phygital experience relies on advanced AI camera technology to identify the products in the shopper’s basket and you can learn more about this concept – Checkers Rush – and their other digital innovations over here:
RayBan also teamed up with Facebook to create an unmatched, immersive experience that sits at the intersection of fashion and innovation. With these smart glasses, you don’t have to choose between being on your device and being fully present, find out more here:
List of references:
Checkers just revealed a shop without tills, run on AI and machine vision [online] Available at: https://www.businessinsider.co.za/checkers-rush-concept-store-has-no-checkout-and-no-queues-2021-8
Phygital — What Is It And Why Should I Care? [online] Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinesscouncil/2021/06/30/phygital—what-is-it-and-why-should-i-care/
Want To Reach Gen Z? Learn To Speak ‘Phygital’ [online] Available at: https://retailtouchpoints.com/features/trend-watch/want-to-reach-gen-z-learn-to-speak-phygital
What’s next for digital consumers [online] Available at: https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-digital/our-insights/whats-next-for-digital-consumers
What’s Phygital in the Customer Experience? [online] Available at: https://www.wearemarketing.com/blog/whats-phygital-in-the-customer-experience.html