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Let’s get phygital

Let’s get phygital: The hybrid approach to retail just might save your business

Are you afraid? Does the oncoming digital transformation strike fear in your heart? Are you questioning your business model, wondering if you have the online presence to succeed in the digital retail world?

It’s totally understandable – huge changes have come to the retail industry in the last few years alone. Ecommerce, Instagram, extreme personalization – you name it. The internet has changed so much about how we do business that being a little bit afraid is totally natural.

But while the digital transformation of retail is coming – and it’s coming fast – it’s not going to destroy your bricks-and-mortar stores any time soon.

Sure, the pundits have been spouting the death of retail for ages. Sure, some retailers are doubling down on ecommerce. Sure, everyone’s focused on omnichannel email personalization and targeted offers. But that’s only part of the story.

The truth is, as the evolution of retail progresses there’s an exciting – and important – new trend emerging: the phygital.

It might sound like a jargony buzzword but phygital retail is taking the industry by storm. Even Indigo Books and Music is leaning heavily on the phygital in its strategy to survive the digital revolution and increasing price of real estate. They understand that customers’ lives span the digital and physical realms, and that they’re looking for a seamless retail experience that makes it easy to find what they want, when and where they want it.

Montreal-based retailer Frank and Oak epitomizes the new phygital retail trend. They started as an online-only retailer before opening bricks-and-mortar shops across Canada. Using their digital-first mentality, they created a whole host of in-store experiences that take shopping to a whole new level: in-store consultations, digital appointments, coffee shops, performances, and data-driven recommendations that make sense.

And they have succeeded because they have a key understanding: while many customers do want to shop online, the majority (including the up-and-coming Generation Z) wants to touch and feel items before buying. By creating their own showrooms and shop floors, they’ve eliminated the risk of losing customers to competitors. Even if items are out of stock, they can be ordered on the spot so no one leaves unhappy.

That’s the key to phygital: customer experience is essential. No longer do customers come to stores ready to buy; they want to connect with brands and feel valued. It goes beyond personalization (although that’s certainly part of it) to having moments of delight and discovery, of creating unique moments that draw customers back.

For Indigo, that was arming their employees with the best book reviews and insights possible. For Frank and Oak, it’s in-store coffee shops and performances. For you? The possibilities are endless. And it all starts with the right network.

Related reading: Showrooming: The new retail reality

Related reading: The online shopping revolution: Out here there are no borders