Throughout my class on User Experience in the Masters in Digital Innovation in Marketing at Temple University, we have talked a lot about the digital and physical user experience improvement. Looking at them both separately got me wondering if we could combine digital to improve the physical. There are all kinds of buzzwords for the use of technology in the store; omnichannel, seamless engagement, and showrooming come to mind (Lambert). However, my favorite one is phygital. I like this one because it truly gets at the idea of combining the digital and physical world to create an enhanced user experience. Phygital is the merger of the physical and digital worlds into one user experience. It rests on the idea of three elements: immediacy, immersion, and interaction (Bergamini, 2021). The most powerful part of phygital is its implications for the “dying retail” industry.
Julie Lambert of MoneyTech Search Group seems to agree. She says that a combination of VR, holograms, and other new tech can create a unique user experience that customers can only have in stores (Lambert). VR and AR have already become commonplace in many industries. In 2020, Virtualspeech put out a list of 21 industries that have already started using tech to immerse the user in the experience, but there are countless more (Thompson, 2020). While they have taken good steps, the next advancement is to combine the two. This combination comes from the in-store experience changing based on someone’s digital action, and visa-versa. If someone filled a cart online, then went into the store to try on clothes, that digital cart would be a real cart waiting for them.
It is not simply enough to bring technology into the store to make a phygital experience. Data from one source must feed the other. If a user buys a blue shirt in the store, when they shop online the first option should be blue. This level of user knowledge can only be gained from extensive user data. This can be difficult with the changing norms on data privacy. I go into more detail on that in a posting about Real User Monitoring.
Bergamini, Paola. (09 March 2021). What’s phygital? And why does it benefit your business? Mailup Blog. https://blog.mailup.com/2021/03/phygital/.
Lambert, Julie. Let’s Get ‘Phygital’: Can Virtual Reality Save Brick-and-Mortar Retail? Moneytech Search. https://moneytechsearch.com/lets-get-phygital-can-virtual-reality-save-brick-and-mortar-retail/.
Thompson, Sophie. (11 December 2020). VR Applications: 21 Industries already using Virtual Reality. Virtualspeech. https://virtualspeech.com/blog/vr-applications.