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Let’s Get “Phygital:” Is Your Company Ready to Blend the Physical and Digital Guest Experience?

The phygital trend blends physical and digital channels for a better customer experience.

The pandemic brought significant changes to the way consumers shop, especially in the retail industry. During the height of COVID lockdowns, shoppers expected curbside pickup from retailers and grocery stores for their online orders, and many still use that service today.

Today’s consumers want the convenience of a “phygital” customer experience, the blending of physical and digital channels both online and in-store, said Janelle Estes, chief insights officer at UserTesting, a human insights platform in a CMS Wire article.

Estes cites Amazon’s grab-and-go stores, Rothy’s and Warby Parker as prime examples of the phygital customer experience customers crave at retailers.

“The fact that both traditional brick-and-mortar and digital-first companies are embracing phygital reveals a growing recognition that creating seamless customer experiences across multiple channels is no longer enough,” said Estes

“It’s now about fusing channels to engage customers with a more powerful and memorable experience than a single channel alone can provide.”

Exploring the new phygital landscape

Consumers using e-commerce retailers now expect to be able to skip driving to the store and standing in line at the checkout, according to The American Business School Paris:

“The customer orders what he wants, when he wants, where he wants, and is delivered to the address of his choice. Some companies even offer same-day delivery. For a long time, brick and mortar shops have suffered from the rise of online marketplaces. Today, e-commerce and brick-and-mortar are no longer in conflict. They are in fact complementary.”

That doesn’t mean consumers don’t still want the benefits of in-store shopping, however. That’s where the phygital customer experience enters the picture.

How the phygital trend changes the role of retailers

“Globally, we continue to see in-store shopping occur with consumers,” said Jacquelyn Baker, chief commerce experience officer at VMLY&R Commerce in an article at marketing and media resource The Drum. “However, the role of the store has changed for shoppers.

“Consumers can have whatever they want, when they want, on-demand, digitally. For purchases beyond everyday essentials, meanwhile, the store serves more as a showroom for inspiration and ‘retailtainment.’ Physical stores play a tactile purpose for consumers to immerse themselves in brands and experiences that ignite the senses and bring joy.”

Retailers aren’t the only businesses sculpting their phygital strategies. Many banks, health care and health and wellness companies now also combine physical and digital channels to offer a better customer experience.

The phygital trend appeals to both consumers and the companies they buy from. But companies shouldn’t jump into shifting to phygital without first evaluating what their customers want and how phygital can address consumers’ needs, along with whether phygital is a good fit for their business, said Estes:

“By gaining that understanding first, rather than just diving in willy-nilly, a company stands a far greater chance of embarking on a phygital strategy that resonates and sticks.”