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The Interesting Art of Phygital Marketing

Digital marketing methods have been tasting the fruits of success for quite a while now. The ability to reach a global marketplace, understand the preferences and behaviour of the target audience through analytics, and the effectiveness of online advertisement campaigns have led brands to shift a significant focus towards digital marketing and e-commerce centric business models. From a customer’s point of view, the ease of doing payments, a wide range of product alternatives and an option to avoid the hassle of waiting in a line during checkout has prompted businesses to shift to digital channels.


As digital branding creates efficiencies in terms of a targeted audience, availing the right products and conversion of leads, some people still prefer the satisfaction of the “experience” that traditional marketing methods like in-store assistance or personal sales entail. According to a 2019 report by Forbes, around 71% people prefer spending more than 50$ during in-store shopping as opposed to online, because they feel that online shopping does not give the satisfaction of “absolute trust in quality” and calmness that people feel while shopping in physical stores. Certain people still feel connected to a product or brand when they derive the understanding through their five senses, instead of just clicking on an ad or browsing through an online catalogue.


This dilemma is the impetus that has pushed many brands to develop an altogether new type of marketing strategy quite quirky in its name- Phygital marketing! Making physical and digital elements coexist together such that the sensory and in-store experience is multiplied by the benefits of digital technology is the undercurrent of this unique form of marketing. It is one step ahead of an omnichannel branding strategy - it literally combines physical and digital together, wherein brick and mortar stores create a playful environment through the use of technology like Artificial Intelligence and IoT, and online stores bank on the sensory experiences of customer shopping.


I can get verbose about how Phygital marketing is done, but the conveyance won’t be as effective as it would be if I tell it through some marvellous examples of how brands have actually reaped its virtue


Amazon Go

We all know what a success Amazon has been in the e-commerce space. But, aptly understanding the experience that a physical retail store gives to people, Amazon has introduced a number of “Amazon Go” stores across the U.S. People can visit the stores and buy from the line of product decked on the racks-pretty much like a normal retail shopping. But, customers need not drive a physical cart or stand in a line to checkout. A virtual cart is integrated into the shopper’s app installed on their smartphones. It automatically detects when a customer has purchased something and when he keeps an item back on the shelf. When they leave, the items bought are automatically identified and charged from their account.


Nike

Since 2018, Nike has incorporated a unique phygital solution to improve the experience for their customers. They launched the Nike ID stores in New York and Los Angeles. Through an app, customers can book product testing sessions, reserve products beforehand, redeem customer points and also customize their own sports shoes and sneakers by providing all the relevant details in the app. And then, you just need to go to the Nike ID store and pick it up! This results in a unique experience for customers and a choice to select options from home, but test it in-store. This idea has become such a rage that in 2019, Nike opened up new stores in Long Beach and Tokyo.


Touchwalls by Timberland

Timberland is a leading U.S. manufacturer of outdoor wearables. To improve customer satisfaction and complement their in-store and e-commerce selections, it has introduced Touchwalls. While shopping in-store, people can “tap on the walls” and have a look at an online-only inventory of shoes and goods, in addition to the products on display. Customers can also create a personalized shopping list combining both physically available goods and online available goods. By understanding customer behaviour through this, Timberland also sends automated periodic emails containing new offers and customized product options based on their shopping and search history.


Glossier

Glossier has gained a cult following through its online blog selling some fashionable makeup products. It has now expanded its reach to connect with customers better by opening a brick and mortar store in New York, which has become THE destination for the ultimate social-savvy photos of fancy products and takes selfies using their smart mirrors, giving people an experience which they could not provide through their online channel.


Before moving between physical and digital spaces alternately, brands need to understand the purpose of their business, whether an integrated digital and physical shopping dimension would offer something new or exciting for the customers. Nevertheless, Phygital marketing poses the potential to redefine business models by leveraging on the positive aspects of both physical and digital shopping experience. Businesses have far moved beyond crunching mediocrity towards innovative solutions, and Phygital marketing promises to be an upheaval for them.


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