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Nov 3, 2020

What Is Phygital Retail and Why It Matters [+ 3 Examples]

Learn the meaning and importance of phygital retail and where it fits into the broader world of omnichannel shopping.

By Dorea Novaez, Contributor @ Endear

You walk into a store, greeted by a nearly life-size screen, rotating images of impeccably styled models in the brand's newest arrivals. See an item you like and want to pull it up online? Scan the QR code next to the item and add it to your wish list for later. In a hurry? No worries, the associate brings over a mobile device and rings you up right outside the fitting room. This is phygital.

What is phygital retail?

"Phygital" retail is the integration of digital technology in a physical retail space. Now, that can take a lot of different forms: mobile POS, virtual waitlists, electronic self labels, self-check out, virtual showrooms, and more. The rapid expansion of integrated technology into physical retail spaces not only increases efficiency and customer engagement, but also serves as a powerful way to collect and analyze data about the customer interactions across channels.

What's the difference between phygital retail and omnichannel retail?

We've discussed omnichannel retail and it's importance in a past blog post, and you might be thinking this all sounds very familiar. But while the two are similar, phygital has some important distinctions. Let's discuss.

Omnichannel retail is about meeting your customers where they are — whether that be online, on their phone, or in store — and providing them with a seamless experience in terms of service, branding, and messaging. While adept use of technology can certainly make this type of strategy more or less successful, at the end of the day, omnichannel is about being nimble. You need to be in the right place at the right time to provide for the needs of customers. Thus, as an omnichannel retailer, you are on your toes, waiting to field the proverbial fly ball, wherever it may land.

Meanwhile, phygital is about using technology to engage with customers once they enter a physical retail location. In-store technology then enables interactive marketing, efficient servicing, and valuable data capture for further use in your broader omnichannel strategy. In this instance, the customer has taken the action of walking into the store, but you've seamlessly blended the physical and digital channels into a positive and unified customer experience. Being "phygitally-savvy" allows you to hit the ball out of the park once that perfect pitch has been teed up for you.

To summarize: a strong phygital experience is one small but important piece of how omnichannel retailers can offer customers a seamless and enjoyable path to purchase.

3 Examples of Phygital Retail in Action

So what does good execution of a phygital retail strategy look like? Here are some prime examples of how modern retail has best embraced phygital transformation.

Nike

If you haven't visited the Nike Flagship Store in NYC, let me tell you it is a true phygital experience. From the use of digital displays and interactive media to the scannable QR codes that allow you to check availability of your size and different color options for order or pick-up. You can even request the items to be pulled to a fitting room for you. In addition, there are no cash registers. Check out is completed through mobile.

Natuzzi

Last year, luxury Italian furniture retailer Natuzzi partnered with Hevolus Innovation to create an augmented reality showroom space in it's NYC store. The technology allows customers to view different furniture pieces, arrangements, and color selections as it would appear in their home through the aid of a Microsoft Hololens 2 headset. This reduces the amount of physical inventory and square footage the retailer needs, and allows customers to shop a fuller range of options while ensuring they will be happy with how it actually ends up looking in their home.

Charlotte Tillbury

This burgeoning celebrity makeup artist brand has been on top of the phygital retail trend for a few years now, implementing smart mirrors in their London flagship store. These mirrors allow customers to view themselves with multiple makeup looks and try on various shades all without the need to physically apply any makeup. Not only does this reduce the staff needed to service the store, but the ability to do a quick change and try on multiple looks in one visit is a huge upselling opportunity.

Now, these prime examples of phygital in action may open your eyes to the endless possibilities. But I hear you, not all stores have the resources to implement such high-tech innovations. The good news is that a lot can be achieved through standard issue mobile devices and the right technology platform. Also keep in mind that phygital experiences don't have to be customer-facing or overtly fanciful - in fact, sometimes the best use of technology is when it's hidden away while still improving the customer's experience.

How to Use Endear to Make Your Brand More Phygitally-Savvy

Endear offers an out-of-the-box solution for unified CRM, omnichannel tracking, and centralized messaging. All you need in order to execute a number of phygital retail practices is ensure associates have access to the platform through mobile devices.

Use mobile devices to input customer data on the floor

As a retailer, having the customer's information readily available and easily searchable puts the ball in your court. So make it quick and efficient for your customer to opt into store communications and loyalty programs right from the sales floor or fitting room. This can aid in providing a seamless shopping experience and allows your associates to track and follow up on that customer relationship after initial contact.

Shop your "virtual stock room"

Are some of your best selling items out-of-stock in store? Looking for a specialty item to complete a look for a customer? Empower your associates to draw from the "virtual stock room" of your ecommerce site with Endear Lookbooks. Your associates can work with customers to show them all their options in real-time as well as easily display alternative color options and explore size availability in-store.

Send follow up Lookbooks

After an in-store visit, associates can also use notes, stored purchase history, and the customer's preferred contact information from Endear to send a Lookbook as a follow-up. Whether this is a shoppable list of items the customer viewed in store but did not purchase or new suggestions based on that customer's demonstrated tastes and preferences, it's the perfect opportunity to continue the relationship.

Enabling these capabilities for your business and immediately enhancing your phygital prowess is easier than you think. Check out our homepage for more details on these features and more.