Be it customer experience or linking the physical store to digital, retail is reaching out to a phygital solution, merging the two worlds seamlessly.
Retail is growing, growing out of brick-and-mortar and spreading on the Internet and on the cloud. But has it outgrown brick-and-mortar? Nope. It certainly doesn’t look like a possibility in the near future. Then how can we define the evolution of retail? By phygital. Retail has spread its Omnichannel wings and conquered the digital world. That has enabled greater reach, seamlessness and advancement. Omnichannel retail, though advanced in reach and consistent in nature, has its own difficulties.
Omnichannel Challenges and Opportunities
Enhanced in-store experience: Brick-and-mortar has not lost its relevance in today’s digital market. It has become rather important to make the physical stores as smart as the digital ones. Retailers require providing their customers accustomed to hassle-free shopping, similar experiences in-store. This includes line busting methods, knowing customer profiles, targeted offers and reward points.
Bridging online and offline: Customers add products to their online carts and walk into the physical store expecting to check out the products before buying them. If he/she doesn’t find it on shelf it confuses them. When a retailer’s online and offline stocks don’t match, it increases chances of abandonment. If your online and in-store journeys are independent it would require integration for a seamless customer journey.
Linking digital and in-store: Your customer gets a text saying that he is getting a one day offer of 50 per cent off on formals. He happily walks into the store, picks out a few products and proceeds to pay. At the counter he is given a bill without any discount. He shows the text to redeem his offer, but the store associate says that he can only avail it online as there is no personalized privilege offers given in your stores. Firstly, this was not mentioned in the text. Secondly, there can’t be such different policies for your online and offline business. You are one retailer, your return policy, offers, payment options (cash, card, online transfer) and customer service need to be seamless across channels. Lack of connection between your operations threatens the customers’ trust in your services.
Right incentives: To connect the dots of the physical and digital retail planning, providing incentives for store managers and associates for encouraging customers to bring business on online and mobile channels is important. Make your stores facilitate phygital by incorporating digital with every purchase. Your store managers could tell the customers to check out the online store so that they can just order from there and pick up from store.
Misunderstood metrics: This happens both ways, from the customer and with the retailer. While the retailer needs to measure retention, acquisition, footfall and market basket analytics as their primary KPIs, customers need to focus on the efforts they are putting in their journey, provide feedback on things they like and dislike about the journey. Mostly retailers end up focusing on targeted marketing and customers on exclusive offers. So when customers face difficulty with customer care or the retailer has trouble understanding why the customer left, there remains a huge gap of misunderstood metrics.
Technology Opportunities for Solving Omnichannel
Smart devices: Smart phones are ruling the market and your customers are sure to rely on them a lot. Whether you have an online store or a mobile app, you need to be smart and technology friendly. Equip your stores with mPOS, tabs and such handheld devices to match up to the smart technology expectations of your customers. Blend physical with digital seamlessly using solutions such as PRIOS, which connects you to your customers’ online shopping profile, enables them to find the right product shelves in your store by connecting their lists to smart shelves, allows store associates to know customer preferences better and also enables customers to pay with whichever method they like.
Master IoT: To master IoT is to master phygital. Connected things and augmented reality is the present and near future of retail. Retailers like UK-based Topshop are already using AR as a trial room for their customers. Japanese makeup multi-national Shiseido is using AR mirrors for customers to try on make up before purchasing. The easiest and fastest way to connect reality with digital is virtual reality and connected devices. With indoor location monitors and digital signage boards, it’s simple to locate your customers and provide them personalized offers in real time.
Apply big data: With the number of channels growing, data flow is seeing an unprecedented surge. To find business insights from that accumulated data and to apply them to find business solutions, you need big data analytics. Big data will reveal secrets about whom to target, when to target and with what to target in today’s customer focused market.
Solving Omnichannel Challenges with Phygital Retail
Merging physical with digital or making the business phygital is referred to as ‘Omni-channel 2.0’. It is seen as the future of retail, seamlessly integrating physical and digital retail, and further enhancing customer experience by several notches. Phygital retail, using the technological advancements mentioned above, will help Omnichannel be seamless by closing the gaps between customers and operations.
Here are a few important phygital solutions for retailers that will help them attain Omnichannel excellence.
In-store customer engagement via mobile apps: Mobile is considered the bridge between physical and digital; physical store shopping is merely a continuation of online shopping, and one can move the wishlist and shopping cart items to the store. Digital retail is all about ROPO (research online purchase offline), customers expect to see on shelves exactly what you offer online. Browsing in-store, paying online and doorstep delivery are the trends that will shape the future of retail.
Personalized targeting: Every customer is unique, and personalization of product recommendations, promotions, location-based offers only assure customers that the retailer knows their unique needs. This builds trust in the retailer for knowing what is best for the customer, which leads to effective retention. A good example for this is Amazon’s personalized recommendation based on unique search items by each customer.
Self service: Customers already use smartphones to locate products in stores, compare prices of items, and pay using digital wallets. The main objective of a mobile app, for instance, would be to provide all the services that a store/ store employee does, and more saving customers’ time and retailers’ resources. Take the instance of McDonald’s self-service kiosks, which can take orders starting from a customized burger to a full meal platter.
Empowering store associates: Retailers are now increasingly in agreement that if store associates are well-equipped with the knowledge of customer and product insights, they’ll bring in better business. Helping customers find the right product, right fit and the right price is easier with apps that connect their purchase history, online customer profile and help empower store associates with the required knowledge for a more personalised service. Associates can easily check inventory with a tab in hand, show customers products for cross-sell and take quick feedback with just a few swipes.
Phygital retail brings us the best of the both words, physical and digital. It merges the real feeling of browsing shop shelves, finding what’s new and what other options are there with the comfort of ordering online and getting it delivered. The marriage of physical and digital will give birth to a future retail scenario that is seamless, connected and omnipresent.