Phy-gital describes the amalgamation of digital experiences with physical ones. As the channels of customer interaction and communication proliferate, companies aim to make combining these channels frictionless and seamless, enabling a customer to make a phone call, then communicate in a social media platform, then send an email, without the company losing the thread of the communication or a sense of the customer issues associated with the customer account record.
The Importance of ‘Phy-gital Experience’ in the Modern Retail Industry
“Consumers today in India seamlessly move between physical and digital world. Over the period time, we have seen a tremendous growth in online sales but despite that offline stores have remained very relevant and important in retailing. The consumer’s shopping journey has changed totally; s/he may see a product online and may purchase it offline or vice versa. S/he today looks for the comfort of purchasing online with the element of human interaction. Similarly, in physical stores, s/he wants technology that guides them seamlessly in the store while shopping,” says Devchandan Mallick, Research Analyst at Euromonitor International.
“It has become critical for the retailers to have a system in place which blends the physical and digital ecosystem enable brand and consumers to connect seamlessly in order to capture the attention of the consumers, communicate values, enable purchase and support the purchase decision,” he adds.
Phy-gital Services Redefining the Retail Sector
With new technologies both offline and online retailers have changed their strategy by adopting these services. They are using these technologies to create a convergence between the digital and physical world for the hyper-connected consumers.
Offline stores: Offline stores are using technologies such as location-based technologies including beacons and proximity marketing, virtual reality such as a virtual mirror, augmented reality like VR set, portable payments system like QR codes, NFC, self-checkout etc and in-store digital signages including digital information kiosk. These offline stores are leveraging digital touch points such as social media, mobile apps, and review websites to interact with consumers, understand their needs, provide relevant recommendation and drive sales. Retailers have started giving consumers to order from their app and pick it up from their stores or kiosk set up the retailer near to the consumers.
Online stores: The stores have started to reach out consumer offline as well as increased interaction with consumers by using AI-powered interactive chatbots, giving try out option using virtual trail rooms, on delivery try out, personalized recommendations through apps and expert opinions as well. Many digital retailers have also opened up offline stores to reach out consumers and online companies are also using banner shopping by setting up banners in coffee shops, restaurants and other public places where consumers scan and purchase products.
At the back end, both offline and online retailers are using these technologies to gain information about consumer needs, decipher consumer mindset, segment them and empower the shopper’s journey.
In the retail context, many of these technologies are in a nascent stage in India; however, certain elements such as payments, customer support, and delivery has become critical to better serve the customer and gain loyalty. Customers are looking personalized, agile and seamless services these technologies are critical to implementing to cater to these customer demands.
Consumers are looking for an experience that combines both physical and digital experiences ie Omnichannel when they make a purchase. They like to touch and feel a product before making the purchase and at the same time have the ease an e-commerce portal. They also expect the stores to give consultation on products by understanding their choices and use technology to offer them customized service and support purchase decision.
Retailers who adopt these technologies, seamlessly create a balance of physical and digital touch point and provide standardized services through an amalgamation of both by creating a phy-gital ecosystem are expected survive the competition and thrive.