Let’s get phygital!

phygital
The imperative is a seamless omnichannel experience

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As I was strolling through the centre of Madrid, during my weekend away, I decided to go and check out this new WOW Concept Store I read about in the news: a store recently opened, the store of the future, a store where each customer can find the perfect purchase experience according to their preferences. 

A revolutionary example of how to connect with customers, where every floor of the 5,500 sqm shop is dedicated to a specific shopper persona and a specific way of purchasing. You can either see, feel, touch the products and get them from the shelf, or order online but try in store, or simply pick up from there. 

Perfect, for me, a flexible and busy person, I love choosing from a wide offer that can accomodate my needs depending on where I am and what I need.

It’s all about being phygital and we should all get familiar with it because, it’s not the future, it is the ‘’now’’ of retail. First of all, what does it mean? It combines the adjectives physical and digital together and it is now used to describe a unique way of making the products available either in-store, on websites and through various digital channels.

Why is getting phygital crucial? According to Margot Juros, research manager, Worldwide Retail Technology Strategies at IDC, “the message came through loud and clear of the importance of integration and interoperability in today’s hybrid phygital world, making everything work well together. Modern digital infrastructure is essential to retailers’ ability to achieve it.”

The goal is to find a perfect way to integrate these 2 dimensions and align all the related channels. Of course, this adds a level of complexity that only who is inside the business can touch and experience but needs to be activated as it is the result of requests coming from the new shoppers’ profiles that continuously emerge and evolve.  

Options on how to purchase products keep increasing thanks to the always-on mobile networks, social shops and a whole new range of ways to get products delivered. This means that shoppers approach the process with extremely high expectations for availability, choice on where to get the products from and environmentally sustainable policies, from manufacturing and from a logistical perspective.

According to this article from McKinsey, all of this means that it is vital for brands to forge the same type of relationships with last-mile delivery customers that they would with shoppers in retail outlets. Doesn’t matter if you choose an hybrid approach or you go all in-one building, brand value still depends on connection.

phygital

Another great example of how to connect with your customers through a seamless omnichannel experience is given by Eataly, with the vision of offering Italian delicatessen everywhere, they became a true omnichannel player. Eataly offers its customers the option to buy online or directly in-shop. Both kinds of orders are managed through the same interactive experience, while a unified dashboard lets store personnel create delivery orders in real-time. The eCommerce checkout has been integrated with and displays flexible time slots, evening and weekend deliveries. Last but not least customers are incentivized to select time slots aligned with logistics options for a perfect fit. Eataly’s omnichannel experience has been provided by Milkman Technologies since 2016 and while we don’t know who’s the last-mile provider for the WOW concept store, we’d be happily available to oblige them with our services!  

This combined approach needs to be designed and geared for the ultimate customer experience, knowing exactly who the customer is and what he or she wants and uses the phygital store for. Those retailers that are already offering an omnichannel experience or planning for it are changing their business models in order to stay ahead of the customer attitudes and applying a digital transformation that will allow them to survive the phygital revolution.

It is a goodbye to the ‘’traditional shopping centres’’ and a complete restructuring of spaces. Businesses are required to carefully plan capacity needed across all channels, order fulfilment in the right geographical areas and maintain their delivery promises. 

On the post-purchase side of the experience, as per a Forbes recent article, old-school track-and-trace technologies will no longer suffice; more and more, customers desire real-time visibility throughout the process, so they can monitor their order status, the driver’s location or the estimated arrival time not just at home but where they selected the product to be. For many customers, that’s part of the fun. As a result, last-mile services are increasingly employing technologies such as smart tracking and dynamic route optimization.

Milkman Technologies provides the efficiency and flexibility required with new levels of automation and two-way communication options that can enable planning and execution across a retailer’s entire network to win the phigital transformation race. 

A race where the winner is whoever recognises the evolving tastes of the shoppers and gives the right importance to advancements in technology for omnichannel.

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