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Time for Some Phygital (Retail) Therapy

Time for Some Phygital (Retail) Therapy

Contradictions are inherent in life. Externally they cover the raw and wild nature around us, and internally, they lie at the heart of a human’s personality and character.

One particular contradiction that has heightened during the pandemic is the fact that people like to shop online, yet they yearn for the days of physical, in-person experiences. Fortunately, this particular contradiction can be resolved with tech that combines digital elements with physical elements: phygital experiences.

Aimed at providing a fully connected, cross-channel service, phygital experiences tie the best of two worlds together, and can boost brand loyalty. The ultimate goal of phygital is to provide each customer a unique, highly-personalized experience that makes a strong impression.

Time for Some Phygital (Retail) TherapyThink about this example of a phygital experience: you’re in a state where lockdown measures are softening yet for shops to reopen, they must implement social distancing in-store. For the last five months your store has been struggling. With the doors closed you solely relied on ecommerce, which has kept you afloat. How could you market yourself to entice customers to your store, while also respecting health and safety measures?

One strategy would be to offer all of your existing customers a nice discount on physical sales — but to spread out the discount dates, so that the discount applied to 100 customers only on Monday; then for another 100 customers on Tuesday, and so on, so that you don’t get crowds gathering outside your store and waiting to get inside to shop.

Such a phygital experience delivers personalization while also working out a solution to the social distancing issue.

Another strategy that has seen heavy investment in recent years is the combination of ecommerce and augmented reality and virtual reality, which provide customers with an experience of a product or service before buying and in the safety of their own home. Rather than click on 2D items from a grocery list on a website, you can walk down your favorite store’s food aisles, picking up what you need and throwing it in your cart.

Augmented reality has become an impressive deliverer of experiences for home products like furniture stores. Requiring less digital complexity, users are able to see how a couch may fit their living room without the worry over mismeasuring spaces and the hassle of figuring out the arrangement and rearrangement of where it would look best — feng shui style.

A third strategy example is that for more traditional sectors, or those that sell products with a history, you could use AR in creative, simple, yet effective ways. Winemakers may offer users an experience that takes them to the vineyards of where a particular wine originated from. Let them walk the vineyards and take in the scenery to give the real taste of the wine a greater depth.

Time for Some Phygital (Retail) TherapyIn order to carry out complex and robust experiences, it’s important to work with a dev and strategy team that is well-versed in complicated and powerful software like Salesforce Commerce Cloud, and excels at accelerating some of the most-recognized brands in the world.

For sceptics and those with a darker tint in their world view, phygital signals the next step towards a dystopian future of human-machine connectivity where we are slaves to our senses, seeking shelter in the digital world from the difficult, complex and contradictory environment of the “real” world.

And perhaps there is truth in their scepticism, and that we ought to be cognizant of the dangers of a digitally dominant world. But one step in a certain direction does not automatically mean the road ahead is predetermined. That one advancement leads causally to another. It is a slippery slope fallacy. So don’t stray too far from the present. As the Canadian academic David Suzuki said, the future doesn’t exist!

Phygital — despite sounding slightly odd, like when you accidentally merge two words together — provides powerful tools for brands and retailers to deal with the situation we still find ourselves in.

PS: UV is one of the world’s leading Salesforce Commerce Cloud (Demandware) development & strategy teams. Contact us to see how we can work together.

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