Ushering the Age of Innovation from Physical to Phygital

Dec 13th, 2020 | by  Devyani Parashar

While writing on a similar topic last year, I recall I started something like this-

While the world is becoming more digitalized with every passing second and everything you need is a few clicks away, offline retail still remains the most popular shopping channel for consumers that can’t be matched when it comes to customer experience and comfort for retailers…” 

I was trying to figure out which is a more effective way of connecting with your potential customers, “Digital store or Physical store”. The conclusion that I came to, was as good as it is today – an amalgamation of Digital and Physical or an unbiased presence of your store in question on both the platforms, making your business PHYGITAL


NEED for Phygital Space

In pre-COVID times, we had the luxury to call ourselves lazy and take the help of digital stores/ platforms to get the services we needed in a snap. But the time has changed and now, switching to a more digitized version of stores has become a necessity. Hence, there is a need for taking innovation from physical to phygital space. To improve the customer experience and develop the faith we always had in a physical store, we need more input towards making digital platforms consumer friendly and easy to use. On the other hand, we need digitization of the physical platforms in order to make the customer experience frictionless and fast paced.    


Fig. 2- The cross-connection of virtual and real world

1. Need for Omnipresence

In this day and age, a customer decides where they want to interact with their potential sellers and if you aren't there then you are at loss as a service provider. Omni-channel brands interconnect their digital channels (website, ecommerce platform, mobile app, social media, e-mailing, customer service, and so on) with their physical channels (brick-and-mortar, events, billboards, and so on) offering a seamless, tailored and comfortable experience to their customers. 

“It consists on providing customers with a fully-integrated shopping experience by uniting user experiences from brick-and-mortar to mobile-browsing and everything in between. Omni-channel retail focuses on every customer interaction and their overall experience of your product and brand” (Shopify , 2018)

For example - It is 8 PM and you are tired after a long workday, completely uninterested in cooking something. What would you rather do?
A) Have a quick run to your favorite Chinese place (which does not offer delivery service) in the middle of the market with 45 minutes of waiting, OR
B) Just Swiggy / Zomato some food to your doorstep from another Chinese place that provides its services on the platform? 

I am almost certain that you would choose the latter.

2. Consumers’ need for unique experiences

According to Van Tichelen and Brieuc’s thesis on ‘The role and opportunities of Phygital in the digital omni-channel strategy’, phygital fully meets the need which is the customer’s need for unique experiences triggering emotions. One of the characteristics of phygital experiences is their engaging aspect. Phygital engages customers in different ways depending on the type of experience chosen by the brand. It can be through a gesture recognition game on-site, through the use of interactive totems, through smart mirrors displaying additional information, and so on. These Phygital experiences dramatically improve the customer experience and give them, in certain cases, a unique character. Concerning emotions, these experiences generate plenty of them which results in great memories for customers they will be able to share.

How can we go Phygital?

In the 21st century, we live in an age of digitization and hence we have developed quite a few technologies to combine our physical and digital experiences already. Some of these are being used to do the same and some are still under process. We are yet to optimize our use of technology to get the desired Phygital space. Some of these technologies are mentioned below-

Fig 3- Technologies available for Phygital experience

1. Touch Technology

Every device we use has been modified to respond to touch technology today, be it smart refrigerators, our computer screens, or a checkout station in your local grocery store. People are very comfortable with using this technology and hence the adaptation time will be less.

2. Object, Face or Voice Recognition

With help of Artificial Intelligence (AI), brands can help you get more information regarding an object just by scanning it once. AI can help brands personalize profiles for different people and use different face recognition and voice recognition patterns to provide a personalized experience to different customers. For example, Google Assistant, Alexa, or Siri - all work with a voice command to make your experience smoother.

3. Augmented Reality (AR) helping in making stores go phygital

Augmented reality is a combination of the real world with the virtual environment. Virtual reality uses a total replacement for the real world and in this way the user rips the real environment. It follows that augmented reality is a kind of virtual reality. 

Augmented reality technology works on the basis of mobile applications to real-time inserted in the camera image generated content, for example, text, still graphics, video, 3D animation, holograms and so on. It can vastly help retailers by significantly reducing the returns as it provides an engaging ‘try-before-you-buy’ digital experience. Innovative AR solutions are great for allowing customers to visualize products in real-time, from the comfort of their homes. Hence, in a more socially distanced manner, for, the pandemic isn’t over yet!

We can partner up a physical platform that used to require manual interventions, completely digitized with the help of AR. For example- IKEA’s Place app lets borrowers project 3D furniture renderings into their homes to test look and fit before placing an order or Gucci’s try on shoes in AR which helps the customers to see how different shoes would look on their feet by projecting a digital overlay of 19 different sneakers on their own feet. Another example can be Toyota vehicle demo; launched in 2019 Toyota Hybrid app allows customers to see the newly launched C-HR model. There are many other examples of brands using AR to develop newer and smarter ways to deal with their targeted audience.


There is no other way of concluding other than by saying that Phygital experiences are going to be the new norm of our ever-so-changing world. We need to be focusing more on innovative ideas to converge our digital and physical spaces into unison. In the post COVID-19 world, we have to come up with better solutions to our problems regarding the aforementioned. 

Stay creative and keep ideating!



Devyani Parashar

Devyani Parashar

I love learning about new things.

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