A New Era of CX: How Phygital is Changing the Game

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In the past, customer experience (CX) focused predominantly on providing outstanding in-store experiences, with brands investing heavily in in-store design, marketing, merchandising, and customer service. However, CX has evolved to encompass and prioritize fluidity between channels. Customers have become accustomed to moving fluidly between channels as they find, purchase, and track their items of interest. And along the way, they’ve come to expect customer support in whatever forms are most convenient for them.

In the early 2000s, many prognosticators made dire predictions about the rise of online shopping and the death of brick-and-mortar retail. And, yes, online shopping upended the retail apple cart to some extent. People love the convenience and personalized features offered by digital experiences. But people also love shopping in person. As a result, brands are adopting a new kind of CX strategy that seamlessly integrates physical and digital touchpoints. This results in what’s become known as “phygital” CX, which brings together the strengths of physical and digital experiences to create experiences for customers that are both immersive and intuitive. Phygital CX strives to be the perfect blend of both worlds.

What Are the Core Ingredients of Phygital CX?

The term “phygital” refers to the intersection of physical and digital experiences. Let’s look at the critical components of phygital CX that make it an attractive option for brands seeking to build long-term customer loyalty. Here are six fundamental elements of phygital CX.

1. Omnichannel Integration

Omnichannel integration is at the heart of phygital CX, as it allows customers to navigate between physical and digital channels seamlessly. With this approach, customers can browse products online and use virtual try-on capabilities to try them out before purchasing. Customers then have their preferences, search history and purchases integrated across channels, and can choose to buy the product in-store or online.

2. In-Store Digital Experiences

Even brands that have primarily operated online recognize the value of physical locations. By incorporating digital technologies into their brick-and-mortar stores, brands can enhance the customer experience. For example, they can use virtual reality to showcase products or create displays allowing customers to interact with items before purchasing them.

3. Innovative In-store Navigation

With phygital CX, customers can experience a personalized journey that connects them to products they can customize in real-time through the brand app on their mobile phones. In-store navigation apps guide customers through the store, helping them find the products they’re looking for and offering real-time inventory and promotional updates. 

4. Seamless Checkout

Phygital CX makes checkout a seamless experience by enabling customers to purchase products in-store or online using various payment methods. For instance, customers can scan a QR code to complete their purchase, and payment information automatically syncs across channels.

5. Personalized Customer Journeys

Using intelligent virtual agents powered by AI, brands can combine customer data from physical and digital channels into a single customer view that gives them an actionable understanding of customer preferences and behaviors and tailor their experiences accordingly. For example, a customer who frequently purchases running shoes online may receive a personalized offer for a new line of running gear when they visit a physical store. By delivering customized recommendations in real-time, brands can set the table for higher conversion rates and increased loyalty.

6. Augmented Reality

In addition to providing virtual try-on experiences for fashion and beauty products, brands also use augmented reality (AR) to enhance the in-store experience. For example, some retailers use AR-powered interactive displays that allow customers to visualize how furniture or home decor items would look. By using AR to create immersive and interactive experiences, brands can differentiate themselves from competitors and provide customers with a memorable and engaging experience that keeps them coming back.

Crafting a Strategy for Successful Phygital CX Implementation

There are several vital elements that brands should consider when creating a phygital CX strategy. 

First and foremost, it is essential to have a clear understanding of customer needs to design experiences that are both relevant and engaging. 

Second, investing in the right technology is crucial to the success of any phygital CX strategy. Without the proper tools—including conversational AI, digital displays, AR, and apps—it’s impossible to offer customers physical and digital experiences that are truly integrated.

Third, create a story that guides customers through their journey. One central challenge of creating phygital experiences is making the physical and digital elements work together inclusively for all customers, regardless of their abilities or technological literacy. If the narrative elements fit together properly, customers will have a memorable journey with a clear payoff.

Finally, it’s essential to measure and adapt to what works. By monitoring metrics such as customer engagement, sales, and satisfaction, companies can identify areas for improvement and adjust accordingly. Using AI and AR, brands can collect data and feedback to continuously iterate and improve their phygital CX initiatives.

By considering these key elements, companies can develop a winning phygital CX strategy that delivers engaging experiences, generates return customers, and builds long-term brand loyalty.

About the Author

Rebecca Jones is general manager of Mosaicx. In her career of more than 25 years, she has held a broad range of operations executive roles focused on growing businesses, people, and profit margins. She also serves as a member of the board for the Families for Effective Autism Treatment (FEAT) of Louisville, Ky.

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