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Phygital Commerce: The Future of Retail in 2023

By Blueport Team Jan 9, 2023 2:16:26 PM


Today’s furniture shoppers are shopping across channels - visiting brick and mortar stores as well as online- more than ever. This trend of  “phygital” shopping has prompted retailers to streamline purchasing options through omnichannel ecommerce. Below, we’ll discuss what phygital retail entails, as well as how to create an omnichannel shopping experience that meets the needs and preferences of your shoppers.


What Is Phygital Retail?

Phygital comes from the combination of the words “physical” and “digital.” ScienceDirect defines phygital as a “form of omnichannel retailing that emphasizes combining the physical and digital elements, with a particular focus on the human touch,” so that shoppers can feel connected with their chosen brands.

On its own, ecommerce can offer immediacy, speed, and convenience, but doesn’t offer the benefits of in person shopping when evaluating size, color, and other “touch and feel” characteristics of a product. Brick-and-mortar stores provide human interaction opportunities and direct engagement with products, but the in-store experiences often lack the data richness, speed, and convenience of online researching and shopping. 

Even though the shopping journey typically starts online, consumers prefer the experiences they have in-store when shopping and purchasing many products, particularly those that are more complex and/or more expensive. With this in mind, and particularly for these products, it’s important to combine digital with physical touchpoints. A phygital experience offers the best of both worlds in a seamless omnichannel shopping journey that allows shoppers to move between channels, using each to do what they do best.


Examples of Phygital Retail

Phygital experiences occur along the buyer’s journey when the shopper switches between interaction channels. It’s also considered phygital shopping if a customer uses both channels at the same time. For example, a customer is a phygital shopper if they:

  • Explore & Order
    • View products online/in-store, then order their selection using the other touchpoint.
    • Connect with chatbots for simple inquiries and an employee for additional help.
    • Visit a brick-and-mortar location and use a touch-screen interface to design their furniture configuration.
  • Order & Pickup
    • Buy online pickup in-store (BOPIS).
    • Buy in store and have the product shipped directly to the customer.
  • Purchase & Return
    • Buy online return in-store (BORIS).
    • Buy in store and ship returns  back..

Phygital experiences can happen during the buyer’s journey through a variety of methods including QR codes, chatbots, in-person appointments, and more.


Phygital vs Omnichannel Ecommerce

Omnichannel is characterized by multiple channels consumers can move between without losing any part of their shopping progress. Features such as a customer’s shopping cart and personal recommendations are consistent across all channels of communication. The products and pricing found on one channel can be found, edited, and purchased on another. 

A phygital experience is a specialized part of an omnichannel ecommerce strategy in which the touch points are further personalized at every opportunity. For example, a phygital retail approach can enhance the very nature of in-store shopping through in-store experiences, digital touchpoints, and other data-driven features to merge the in-store and online shopping journey. 


Benefits of Phygital Retail


Millennial Appeal

Phygital experiences appeal to millennials and Gen Z consumers, as both generations are digitally connected, but still appreciate thoughtful in-store interactions. HubSpot’s State of Consumer Trends Report found that although 58% of millennials say they discover new products by searching online, 65% still prefer to buy their products in-store. 


Brand Engagement

Besides bridging the gap between in-store and online, phygital retail simplifies the buyer’s journey, making it easier for consumers to engage with your brand across various channels, which promotes brand loyalty.


Improved Customer Experience

Because transitioning between touchpoints is fluid with an omnichannel ecommerce approach, phygital shoppers feel supported through each stage of their shopping experience.


Create a Phygital Shopping Experience

A holistic and customer-centric approach to phygital retail can drive business growth. To create a successful phygital shopping experience, furniture retailers should expand on a strong foundation provided by an omnichannel ecommerce strategy. When phygital experiences are backed by the right technology, customers can engage with your brand on their own terms.

Blueport assists furniture businesses to reach phygital shoppers with a tech stack designed to streamline the omnichannel shopping journey. Discover what to look for in an ecommerce platform that can support your phygital retail experience with the Furniture Ecommerce Software guide.

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