It wasn’t long ago when many retail businesses turned to e-commerce to reach a broader market. Some brands have completely and successfully moved 100% of their businesses online, while others have adopted a hybrid approach, combining today’s innovations with their physical stores.
The goal is to provide an integrated experience for the digitally connected customer.
Phygital CX was coined by putting the words “physical” and “digital” together, which truly embraces its core concept.
Phygital customer experience (CX) is essentially omnichannel CX that embraces brick-and-mortar as part of the mix, where these are traditionally run as separate operations.
While this concept is fairly new, the recent changes in consumer behavior have made many experts wonder if the time for Phygital CX has finally come.
The pandemic may have forced most consumers to shop online. However, being stuck at home for weeks at a time has also created a need to step out for a change of scene. As a result, many customers would look for products online and then visit the store to buy the items.
This behavior means lost opportunities if you’re operating your retail business completely online.
Apart from the pandemic, experts have also noticed that some gen Z and gen Y consumers are still looking for that in-person interaction with retailers in their stores. The behavior is the same. They would look at products online and complete the purchase in the stores.
This is why it hasn’t been a surprise when some e-commerce giants such as Amazon started to set up physical stores.
The Link Between Phygital CX and Hybrid Shopping Experience
Studies have found that, even amid a pandemic, two out of ten shoppers may browse online but prefer to buy in-store, eliminating the costs and vagaries of delivery. Others go in the opposite direction, wanting to touch, test, and try items firsthand but eventually purchasing online, avoiding checkout lines and prolonged physical contact.
Phygital CX recognizes and optimizes this hybrid shopping preference in several ways:
Safety and convenience
If a customer wants to buy a product in-store, phygital CX can tell them what store currently has a stock of that product in the size, color, material, or model they’re looking for. Stores can offer contactless checkout options or curbside pickup so customers can choose items remotely and prepare them to grab and go. Phygital CX can even mitigate the hassle of social distancing. Instead of waiting in line to enter a store, customers can be notified remotely when it’s safe to enter.
Particularly now, when people may want to minimize interaction with sales staff, customers can use QR codes in stores to learn more about an item, say, who designed it or how it’s sustainably created, or have the things they want sent straight to a fitting room, receiving a notification when the fitting room is stocked and ready for them.
At stores, smart screens can combine facial recognition technology and online data to greet customers by name and offer merchandise options based on their established buying patterns, including favorite colors, brands, sizes, and more. They can even follow a mobile arrow or other directions on their smartphones to the shelf they’re looking for.
Support and cross-selling
Unifying data among physical and digital channels lets CX providers hone in on customer needs and opportunities. If a customer buys a washing machine at the store, for instance, then they might appreciate regular online reminders to purchase detergent.
A customer buying many items in a grocery could also benefit from push notifications about products they often get with that set, likely a recipe or regular pantry staples. Phygital CX can bring customers the best physical and digital service and support, providing seamless, satisfying, singular customer experiences.
Why is “Phygital” considered the “Future of Customer Experience”?
The future of consumer experience is phygital.
Market experts predict the retail industry will never return to pre-pandemic consumer behavior.
As consumers and retailers find more ways to use technology in their lives, consumer behaviors will continue to evolve around integrating digital experiences with physical experiences.
You may have started with a mobile app offering exclusive in-store promos. With customer feedback and in-depth app analysis, you will uncover many hidden opportunities to enrich your market’s phygital CX further.
A customer may have been motivated to use your app for your in-store exclusives. As they immerse themselves in these new experiences, however, they will likely expect similar — if not better— experiences in their future interactions with you.
Phygital CX will only move forward and evolve as businesses continue to develop a consumer-centric culture.
Top X Reasons Why Businesses Need To Go “Phygital”
Still not sure if a phygital CX fits your brand? Here are some of its benefits.
- Improve stock management. Because phygital is an omnichannel solution, you can have unified access to all your branches, find out which products are low in stock, and ensure all your branches are prepared for any surge in sales or customer visits.
- Add value to in-store visits. There used to be a time when customers needed to be in the store to try on a lipstick shade or a pair of running shoes. With augmented reality, you could use your mobile app to let your customers see what they look like with their products. This way, they are ready to purchase when they get to the store.
- Enhance CX. Phygital offers more flexibility. Your customers could choose their preferred shopping experience, mode of payment, and even fulfillment options.
- Provide personalized recommendations. Customers across industries demand a more personalized experience; with phygital CX, it would be easier to get to know your customers, their behaviors, and their needs. With this information, your in-store team would be able to recommend the right products and provide experiences according to the preferences of your customers
- Increase sales. With a holistic view of the customers, your in-store staff could also maximize any cross-sales opportunities. In addition, they would be able to help any customers who may need more information about a product.
- Build trust and loyalty. When customers can engage with you on various contact channels, you can nurture your relationships with them. As a result, they would trust and choose you over your competition.
- Offer support on demand. With phygital CX, your customers will always have the support they need — even when your in-store staff is unavailable.
Examples of Businesses Using the Phygital CX Strategy
Whether you’re a traditional retail brand that’s incorporating digital strategies for the first time or an e-commerce brand setting up a physical store, a phygital CX gives you the best of both worlds. It easily incorporates digital and traditional marketing strategies into your business.
Here are some of the most noteworthy brands that have succeeded in following a phygital CX approach
- Amazon — Amazon took self-checkout to the next level with its Amazon Go. You walk into a store, get your items, and walk out with your shopping bags. Amazon’s technology can track customers’ purchases and charge them to their Amazon accounts.
- Nike — Nike offers a lot of personalization both in-store and online. Depending on local trends, their LA store changes its merchandise every couple of weeks. The store also gives its customers a chance to personalize their products. Their NY store, on the other hand, understands how busy New Yorkers are. So, with the Nike app, shoppers can choose what they want to purchase or try, then the in-store staff prepares the items and leave them in a self-service locker. When the customer arrives, everything is ready for them—not a New York minute wasted!
- Lush — With the LushLabs app, customers could use the “Lush Lens” to see the ingredients of their bath bombs and how best to use them. They have to use their mobile phone camera and place it over their chosen bath bomb.
- Sephora — Sephora maximizes the use of AR and VR for their phygital CX through their app. Customers can “try” their makeup products and get more info about them.
- Allbirds — With their app, you can try their shoes virtually and receive exclusive offers.
- Gucci — Like in fashion, Gucci is always ahead of everyone else. They are one of the first brands to use interactive displays in its stores. Shoppers can search for items, pause, and rewind — all with just a few hand gestures.
How To Create A Phygital Experience For Your Customers
To develop a phygital experience for your target market, it’s crucial to have in-depth knowledge about your customers. When you understand your customers at a deeper level, you’d be able to create a more personalized experience for them.
Here are some steps to get you started with phygital CX:
- Get to know your customers — Like in any CX and marketing approach, getting to know your customers should be the foundation of all your efforts. Otherwise, you may miss out on opportunities, or the experience you want to create may not resonate with your market.
- Set your objectives — It wasn’t long ago when everyone was so focused on cutting costs and maximizing resources that automation became so popular. You probably have used some CRMs to automate your processes. With the increasing demand for personalization, these technologies may not be relevant anymore to your goals. What results do you want to achieve with phygital CX? Increase brand awareness, boost customer loyalty or more app downloads? Your objectives will help you find the right innovations and tools to set up a phygital experience that not only resonates with your customers but also works for the benefit of your company.
- Integrate your customers in all aspects of your business — To develop a successful phygital experience for your customers, you should have a customer-centric culture. And by this, we mean that everyone in the company must understand and be on board. Creating a phygital experience isn’t just the responsibility of your in-store staff. Everyone that could interact with your customers must know what they should do to provide an immersive phygital experience for your customers.
- Take stock of your most effective digital and in-store strategies — Combine relevant strategies to create a winning phygital CX approach
- Provide flexibility — One of the reasons a phygital CX is popular among customers is flexibility. Make it easy for customers to choose between physical and digital options. For instance, even when they’re in your store, give them the option to checkout using your app or through your usual in-store process. Another would be helping them find where an item is located in your store through your app.
- Have a strong online and local presence — A strong presence both online and locally puts your brand on top of their minds. Be where your customers are. Think about having pop-up stores at local events. Change the look of your store based on local celebrations or like Nike, make use of local trends when featuring products in your store.
Where to Find a Phygital CX Solutions Provider?
Everyone is competing for your customer’s attention, loyalty, and transactions. Getting to know them holistically and personally helps you stand out and create meaningful experiences.
Inspiro understands how important it is to nurture relationships with your digitally connected customers. Our technology and experience can help you develop phygital CX that inspires action and builds relationships.
- Get in touch with us to learn how we can help you with your phygital CX strategies.