Phygital, the evolution of the user experience
Beyond physical and digital, phygital is the news key to delight customers
Phygital is one of the keywords of innovation. We live in a world in which technology allows constant interaction between "physical" and "digital". For companies, this is revolutionary, because it gives them the chance to create a better and more interactive customer experience.
Why we are talking about phygital
The pandemic has forced us to use technology far more than usual. During lockdowns we worked in smart working using platforms like Zoom, the kids studied at home through e-learning, and our online purchases increased. These are simple examples of how "physical" and "digital" started to mix today. And things are getting more and more interesting. Thanks to digitalization we now have the opportunity to attend digital fashion shows in the Metaverse, to post a selfie wearing a digital garment on Instagram, or to keep track of our biometric parameters through wearables. Furthermore, even when we are in a brick-and-mortar store, we can access digital content through smart labels.
If once the customer journey included a first contact with the brand through advertising, the search for information, the choice of the product, and the purchase, today the interaction between consumers and brands has expanded and the customer experience is way more immersive.
The term phygital is about using technology to create a seamless experience between the physical and digital world.
Phygital for marketing
Companies have an interest in improving the customer experience because it is the basis of customer loyalty and customer retention.
Phygital marketing starts from the awareness that consumers are hyper-connected today, especially Millennials and GenZs. They are used to moving between the physical and the digital world, therefore companies must be in both and offer a customer experience which is:
- immediate: things must happen fast and at a precise moment;
- immersive: the consumer is at the center of the experience;
- interactive: the relationship between brand and consumer is bidirectional and this helps to activate the most emotional part of the purchasing process.
To do so, companies need to rely on technology.
Technology for a phygital customer experience
The Internet of Things
IoT connects physical objects to the internet.
An example of a IoT phygital customer experience would be Amazon's Dash Buttons. These are physical buttons that people can place around the house, and when they press them, they automatically order the product they have assigned to that button. So, if someone is running low on toilette paper, they can press the "toilette paper" Dash Button, and Amazon automatically places the order.
Beacons and NFCs (Near Field Communication);
Through NFC, companies can communicate directly with a consumer when they pass by a product. By sharing offers, challenges or information, companies can incentivize a purchase or an action. The important thing is that the shared content is tailored around customer’s expectations.
Augmented reality and virtual reality
Through AR and VR brands can build immersive experiences.
We have many examples of this. Think about the virtual dressing rooms that allow customers to see how a garment looks on them without having to try it on. Or is IKEA Place, the AR app created by the Swedish company that allows customers to see how furniture looks in their home before buying it. And what about the first Metaverse Fashion Week in March 2022, which attracted 108,000 attendees who bought over 7,000 digital pieces, all through VR?
Big data and Artificial Intelligence
They help to collect and analyze consumers' data to identify needs and desires and then give them a personalised customer experience.
Smart Labels and QR codes
This phygital technology provides consumers with more information, such as origin or composition of a product or details about the supply chain. Through this transparency, companies can show their commitment toward sustainability thus enforcing brand loyalty.
In-store phygital installation
Nike has created a phygital store in New York where customers can buy products both online and offline. While Burberry, for the Burberry's Runway Show during London Fashion Week in 2018, created an immersive customer experience placing a physical installation in its store on Regent Street and broadcasting the event live on social media, allowing consumers to feel part of the event.
What do companies need to get phygital?
To ensure a positive phygital customer experience, companies must invest in digitisation but also in the training of their staff. This is especially true for retail.
In fact, employees must be able to manage this new way of relating to customers and to use all the tools at their disposal. For example, if a customer goes into a store and asks for information about a product, the sales assistant must be able to check its availability both in the store and online and provide all the necessary information. That’s what customers expect today.