Clientbook Blog
June 17, 2024

What is a "phygital" customer experience?

E-commerce may outpace in-person shopping with sheer numbers these days, but online shopping can’t compete with the personal side of physical stores and customer care. This is especially true for luxury product consumers who expect more than a few button clicks and a package on their porch.

"Phygital" experiences build a bridge between the two methods. By leveraging new tech in combination with tried-and-true in-person sales and marketing efforts, shoppers and retailers both get what they want. 

Before diving into how to take advantage of a new phygital strategy, it helps to understand exactly what it means.

The phygital approach = physical + digital experiences

The term "phygital" is a combination of the words physical and digital, and represents a more immersive experience for customers by using both in-store and online approaches to get better results. 

The overall strategy focuses on brick-and-mortar shops that also use online channels to build their brand and make sales. It combines the in-person, tactile feel of browsing shelves and clothing racks with the digital technology that everyone relies on these days.

Phygital retail makes sense because it augments and improves the overall user experience. We’ll get into exactly why that matters in a moment. First, let’s explore how it actually works and what types of interactive experiences shoppers want when they walk through the doors of their favorite high-end shop.

Integrate in-store technology with traditional displays and design.

Anyone who has been involved with the retail industry for a while understands the importance of making the in-store feel match the brand identity. You choose things like decorative color schemes, shelving units, and signage to reflect that. These things contribute to how your shoppers interact with the merchandise.

A shelf or clothing rack merely displays the products, however. They’re utilitarian more than part of your overall marketing and sales strategy. This is where phygital changes come in.

With the rise of artificial intelligence and the prominence of digital channels for everything from product recommendations to payment processing, consumers expect tech. Integrate it with traditional displays and visual merchandising techniques. Some highly effective methods include:

  • Interactive kiosks:  A well-designed, standalone kiosk invites consumers to get more product information and recommendations tailored to their unique needs and interests.
  • Smart shelving units:  When a shopper stops to examine a product on a specific shelf, sensors identify their interest and trigger a display of item details, inventory, or other options they can order such as colors not currently stocked in the store.
  • Augmented or virtual reality: While some high-end shops may offer full VR shopping experiences, a more common and accessible type of AR allows them to use their own image to digitally try on clothes, jewelry, or even makeup. Another option is to see furniture or decorator accents in their own home or other physical space setting without leaving the store.

Connect your shop with digital channels and mobile apps

While in-store options grab interest while consumers browse, they still rely on their mobile device for most customer/brand interactions. Create new digital worlds that help guide them through the physical one. Consider a store navigation app that not only identifies different departments or shelf displays, but also recommends products of interest based on past shopping preferences.

Increase convenience with scan, pay, and go systems that eliminate the need to stand in line. This requires a careful inventory and security system in place as well as some way to get their purchases packaged for easy carrying. For those who prefer more relaxed, slower, and personalized shopping, consider a virtual shopping assistant video chat option to answer questions or suggest products in real time.

From a business perspective, phygital integration provides numerous benefits. Each shopper gets an experience closer to their personal desires. You get tons of new data to fuel smart decisions on everything from sales scheduling to future product line introductions. It can even cut down on the need for customer service agents for fielding basic questions and free up time and resources for more specialized care.

Create a personalized retail experience for individual shoppers

More data leads to better customization capabilities. The actions of each shopper in relation to the phygital elements you use allow you to create precise customer profiles. This lets you develop targeted promotions for individuals or different segments of your target audience. A woman shopping for a new outfit will get a special offer on silk blouses as she nears the rack because she bought multiple items from that designer in the past.

Interactive kiosks or shelving units quickly learn what the customer is interested in and can share product demonstrations, learning materials, or direct them to in-person or online events of interest. A man buying a diamond necklace can get a quick education in cut, color, and clarity that leads him to a more expensive and higher quality product. Everyone benefits.

Explore new marketing strategies custom made for your audience

All that wonderful data you collect by using tech in conjunction with in-person shopping experience can elevate your entire brand strategy. Without phygital experiences, you can’t collect helpful details about the people browsing through your real-world store.

Now, you’ll be able to use the data to create stronger customer profiles and deliver targeted promotions exactly when they are most likely to buy.

Why should retailers care about phygital experiences?

For luxury brands especially, physical experiences in actual shops will never go away. People want to feel the fine fabric and watch the diamonds sparkle under natural light. The shopping experience itself provides an emotional and social benefit. Despite the popularity of ecommerce, it doesn’t make any sense to abandon in-store options for the online world.

Phygital integration makes each side of the equation better. It creates a fully integrated and truly omnichannel feel that shoppers want. Best of all, it does this without annoying ads or irrelevant offers. Many advantages of in-store technology work behind the scenes. You get more data to make more improvements at every stage of the customer journey.

With Clientbook’s customer management and retail engagement platform at your side, phygital experiences become more powerful and effective. We help you know where to invest your energy and resources to serve the unique consumers who want what your brand has to offer. 

If you’re ready to see how a tool like Clientbook can help you offer a phygital customer experience, book a demo today.

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