Editor's Note: The blurring of the lines between online shopping and the physical brick-and-mortar experience presents retailers with a host of new challenges and opportunities. Putting in place inventory systems and the associated device infrastructure to support online ordering & shipping, curbside pick-up, and in-store transactions is no small task. SD-WAN solutions can empower retailers by helping them manage the traffic and routing of the systems they utilize to integrate processes between the experiences, yielding a better shopper experience and resulting in better customer loyalty with fewer returns.
Make sure your business CONNECTION is ready to support the omnichannel retail shopper experience.
- Customers want phygital experiences that combine digital and physical best practices.
- Digital channels grew during the pandemic but are starting to level off as people return to in-store shopping.
- Phygital provides the best of both worlds and gives customers options for a smooth omnichannel experience.
Customers order items on their phones but pick them up in store, use AR to test an item virtually before buying it and connect with a contact center bot before talking to a human.
Are they interacting with brands physically or virtually?
The answer is a mix of both. The growing phygital experience is becoming a powerful force in delivering convenient and relevant experiences to customers, especially post-pandemic.
What Is Phygital?
The term phygital first popped up in the last few years, but the concept isn’t new. Phygital blurs the line between physical and digital channels to create a consistent omnichannel experience. There’s no longer a separate physical and digital strategy but a united phygital strategy that unites both sides to create an immersive digital experience, no matter where customers shop.
Phygital includes proven strategies like ordering via in-store kiosk at McDonald’s for increased speed, convenience and personalization, to Target’s ability for customers to get items through a variety of delivery channels, including drive-up, shipping or same-day delivery. It’s using VR and AR to create an immersive in-store showcase and providing digital self-service channels to solve customer problems.
During the pandemic, life moved online, and brands had to pivot to digital channels quickly. Digital adoption saw massive growth during the pandemic, with more people turning to apps, bots and websites than ever before. But the acceleration in digital channels now seems to have leveled off.
As we come out of the pandemic, customers are starting to return to normal life and in-person shopping. Although they aren’t rushing back into stores at the same levels before, there is still a considerable demand for in-person experiences. But that doesn’t mean they want to miss out on the convenience of digital shopping. Phygital brings together the best of both worlds for a seamless transition, no matter where or how a customer is shopping.
Instead of using solely digital channels across the board, customers are now deciding to use digital channels when it is most convenient. That means some industries, like travel, banking and entertainment, will see steadiness or growth in customers using digital channels post-pandemic. In contrast, industries like healthcare and education are likely to see a drop in digital usage.
Brands have to make every interaction count and unite what customers want most in a digital channel and what they want most in a physical experience to create a united phygital experience.
How to Create a Phygital Experience
Like all aspects of customer experience, creating a strong phygital experience starts by understanding your customers, what matters to them and how they like to shop and interact with brands.
Companies have a great opportunity to improve customer service with phygital experiences, such as seamlessly moving a customer from a chatbot to a human contact center agent if they have a complex issue or using human agents to supplement digital solutions.
A strong phygital experience requires taking the best elements of your digital strategy and combining them with the best elements of a physical strategy. Cosmetics brand Lush created the Lush Lens app to give more information to in-store customers. Shoppers simply scan a product in the store to see a video of how it was created, how to use it and its ingredients. The approach saves on packaging and in-store signage and empowers customers with more information about the products they are buying.
One of the most common reasons customers want to shop in stores is to discover new items and see and touch products. But they also want the convenience of being able to find things quickly. Walmart taps into both desires by making a customer’s smartphone a critical part of their in-store shopping experience. Customers can scan items to get prices, see what’s in stock and get directions to the exact item in store while also comparing prices, reading reviews and exploring other areas of the store. The win for both physical and digital creates a strong phygital experience.
It all comes down to choice: Customers want the ability to choose online or in-person shopping from the same brands at any time. A quality phygital experience understands customers’ needs and provides excellent digital tools and in-person experiences to move between the channels seamlessly.
The future is phygital, and it’s up to brands to blur the line and provide great experiences.
Blake Morgan was called The Queen of Customer Experience by Meta. She is a globally recognized keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Read her free ebook on the Top Five Customer Experience Trends of 2022 here.
This article was written by Blake Morgan from Forbes and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.