‘Phygital’ Future- Every CX expert needs to know.


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H & M’s most popular pop-up store on a Dutch beach back in 2011, reminds us of the faddish trend of pop-up retail. Physical retail stores were the most preferred shopping mode for gen X a decade back; nevertheless, a transition is currently taking place when gen Y & gen Z too are not yet completely ready to abandon physical interaction with the retailer in favor of online shopping. Often this can be seen when a customer preliminarily searches for a product online and purchases it directly in the retail store after personal interaction. Needless to mention, physical experiences consumers are more engaging and memorable than digital one, despite digital offering diverse opportunities to do so. ‘Phygital’– a neologism that synthesizes ‘physical’ and ‘digital’ can strengthen the combination of digital experience and physical improvements to provide an omnichannel customer experience.

Retail is no more only about the product & its attributes, it is also about the experience. As a result of the growing need for work-life balance, customers crave to step out of their routines and shop in-store. This has given rise to the ‘phygital’ experience and it may not be related to the post-covid scenario. Many players like Nykaa, Amazon, Licious, etc have started setting up physical stores and make us think is this the time to get Phygital?

The possible ways in which the physical and digital environment can be integrated are unlimited. A Marktest E-Commerce Barometer reveals that the number of respondents who searched online and then purchased a product in a physical store dropped from 83.7% to 81.4%, while the number of respondents who viewed products in physical stores and then purchased them online increased from 56.1% to 65.7%. Either way, ‘phygital’ is the main trend in the scope of omnichannel retail experience.

Phygital experiences can be in either of four forms- informational, entertainment, transaction, and support.

Information- Experiences that satisfy the informational needs of customers by providing them with additional knowledge.

Entertainment- These experiences are designed for entertaining and engaging the customers in the store and are mainly used in the form of interactive games.

Transactional- They stimulate the customer during their purchase journey. Like self-service at checkouts, coupons, etc.

Support- Support experience add value to the customer by assisting them during their purchase journey in-store.

These experiences can be used separately or in combination to create dynamic environments depending on the target audience’s needs. Phygital experiences are optimized to synergically manage the channels and technologies, favoring design processes that are capable to organize, narrate, and objectify the product much more influentially. The most common examples are BOPIS (Buy Online pickup in-store), Try at home, Curbside pickup, etc.

Phygital model is not only transforming retail but also education, healthcare, financial services, consumer goods, electronics, furniture, and many other industries. Ever seen a QR code on a restaurant table? When you scan it, you can see a complete menu and details, customize your dish, place the order from there, make the payment online and the food will be delivered to the table. Isn’t it instant, connecting, and hassle-free?

A new dimension of change in healthcare driven by phygital model is helping the industry to extend its reach, provide quality care, enhance patient experience and optimize the healthcare cost. The industry heavily relies on the physical delivery of care services, however, phygital model can help patients to book virtual and real-world appointments, connect with allied health professionals, manage their personal wellness plans, and much more.

Phygital model has changed the way education is imparted to learners. Despite stunning innovations in the education sector, the role of the teacher is a central element, phygital learning model that can monitor the learning path, personalized content delivery, etc can drive the engagement level of learners and help them carve out their own learning path.

Another popular digital experience that allows customers to bank confidently is the transformation of physical banks into phygital banking that combines digital and in-person transactions to make banking a convenient experience. The cost efficiency and scalability it enables can remove the barriers in banking and make it accessible to a larger audience.

The physical and digital presence offers a plethora of opportunities that enhance the brand reach and enable a seamless customer experience by making the brand more ubiquitous. Agile brands can up the ante by being available wherever and whenever their customers want them to be. Phygital is Immersive, Instant, and Interactive which provides infinite opportunities for CX experts to create a cohesive brand experience.

Aashesh D Shaah
Aashesh Shaah is the CEO & Co-founder of Fusion Informatics Limited, a digital transformation company that transforms businesses through digital applications empowered with technologies such as AI, ML, IoT, Cloud, and more. He is a business leader with 20-plus years of experience and works with Startups, SMBs, and Enterprises to craft, enable and accelerate their digital journey.


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