Covid-19 and business: it’s time to get going again. How can we prepare? To withstand the waves of closures and fluctuating restrictions, while responding to new customer needs, stores must necessarily transform and strive for a richer, more efficient, human and integrated customer experience.
In the era of omnichannel Retail 4.0, the keyword is Phygital: a concept that blends the boundaries of a physical with an online dimension of purchasing, making use of the enormous potential offered by technology.
Let us not be frightened by the complexity of the term: Phygital is already around us and, far more widespread than we care to believe, and at some point, we have all behaved according to its principles.
Consider, for example, the number of times we have searched for information about a product on digital channels, but then we went to buy the same item in our trusted store. Or, vice versa, when we have “exploited” offline stores to try on clothes, shoes or to touch the products and then, left “empty-handed”, gone home to buy them comfortably online, perhaps taking advantage of some discount.
Phygital encompasses scanning a QR code while sitting in a restaurant, to access the menu and special contents on foods and promotions.
In short, Phygital means knowing how to combine an offline and online experience, moving seamlessly from one world to another.
Phygital: an essential supplement for the consumer
Being offline-only guarantees a relationship between customer and sales staff that favours contact and control over the customer experience, while enriching storytelling. Unfortunately, this does not overcome the barriers of time and place, avoiding restrictions and ranging between markets.
Being online-only offers flexibility, speed and convenience, but removes the value of physical interaction with the retail space, shopkeeper and product itself from the consumer.
Being Phygital is the best of both worlds for a multi-channel approach, to not give up anything, combining the virtues of the physical and digital dimensions, integrating traditional retail with innovative tools. A necessary turning point to counter the decline in consumption and keep the consumer’s attention alight, combining the speed and immediacy of the online world with the pleasure of interacting with people, typical of the classic in-store experience.
Choosing to be Phygital is a must, because:
- the Italian consumer has been seduced by online shopping (which registered a + 31% surge in 2020), yet misses the possibility of browsing through a shop and being assisted by the sales staff;
- selling exclusively online is a concrete possibility for basic necessities, but it may not work for sectors that make the relationship with the customer its strength;
- barricading oneself inside brick & mortar stores, resisting virtual shopping, is already showing its limitations in the short term. Even when the pandemic is over and the lockouts are just a distant memory, in-store customer behaviour will never go back to how things used to be. Speed, distancing and innovative forms of purchase are indispensable.
Adding value to the customer experience with Phygital: the example of ShopCall
The new kid on the block in Phygital Marketing is ShopCall, the video commerce platform that allows you to enhance online shopping and offer customers an “interconnected” experience, where human and digital coexist, by simply connecting buyer and seller through a video call.
This is a real plus for the customer, who can benefit from the assistance of the sales staff during their purchases, and for the shopkeeper, who rediscovers their central role in the purchase act.
ShopCall is ideal for allowing local shops and small businesses, including artisans, to access the Phygital world: under normal conditions, these categories could not bear the costs and complexity of opening e-commerce, yet through ShopCall, they discover a tool to effortlessly digitise physical sales.
As a perfect expression of the excellence of Retail 4.0, ShopCall respects the 3 principles of the Phygital world, because:
- it offers immediacy, connecting buyer and seller in real-time with a simple video call, accessible with a click from a smartphone, tablet or PC;
- it guarantees immersion, bringing the user back to being the central focus of the experience;
- it enhances the dimension of interaction, generating a virtuous communication between the shopkeeper and customer and reactivating all the relational and human aspects typical to in-store sales, yet so distant from the standard online shopping experience.
Not just video calling: with ShopCall offline retail and online shopping merge, offering a vast range of opportunities. For example, ShopCall is designed for digital sales – with this tool you can sell directly online, concluding the payment and organising the shipment or delivery – but it is also ideal for anyone who chooses to browse novelties online and then goes personally into the shop to collect & pay.
Choosing to integrate ShopCall into your sales services means opening up to the Phygital world. The advantages? Consolidating the bond between consumer and brand, simply entering the digital universe, increasing empathy between customer and retailer, generating trust: this is no trivial matter in a period when brands and retailers have to fight to drive their consumer purchasing choices.