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Phygital Weaves New Story for Retail Data

Author: Evan Krakauer | | June 21, 2016

The young woman entered the sports retail establishment with great apathy. Bobby needed a baseball bat and Penny needed a pair of cleats.

She wandered from aisle to aisle but became distracted by an item just to her left: a longboard, not unlike the one she rode to and from classes as a college student. She ran her fingers over the rough surface, recalling the feeling of her bare feet planted on it during summer days when classes were long and afternoons too short.

She whipped her smart phone from her purse and in moments, found the board from her past in the store’s ecommerce site. She tapped the floating blue button that read “Buy Now.”

With the suppressed enthusiasm of a teenage secret, she thought, “See you soon.”

The Stories of Commerce

Every shopping experience we have has a story: some tell tales of a quick and easy purchase, others speak of poor customer service. Others weave the intricacies of that unexpected find; that diamond in the rough of which we were previously unaware. Either way, these stories are often recounted over cups of coffee, business meetings, and park playdates; they are a central part of the lives of your consumers.

For ages shopping experiences have only been experienced in brick-and-mortar settings. And though this is still the case most of the time, the plotline has severely changed. Remember ten or so years ago when everyone was talking about how physical store locations were going to disappear and be replaced with internet shopping? We weren’t completely wrong – online shopping has certainly wedged itself into the mainstream, but rather than overtaking on-site retail, it has infected it. The two have become a symbiotic parasite and host, required to exist together with physical retail consistently evolving to make way for the influx of the digital revolution. Remember Robocop? Meet the newest theoretical cyborg: phygital.

The Entrance of Phygital

We all know who Robocop is but what on earth is phygital? This buzz word has been around for quite a while now, but has taken on different forms as time passes and technologies mature. Phygital refers to the meeting of physical shopping and digital shopping or marketing. The story above accurately demonstrates the effects of our new phygital universe: The young woman in the story stumbles upon a product she once enjoyed, and muses over the potential for that product to bring some excitement back into the stressful life she now lives. But does she pull it off the shelf and buy it? No! Even though the product she desires sits gleaming right in front of her, she is astute; she knows there are likely better brands, better prices, and better features available somewhere in cyberspace.

The reality of shopping today is this: whether a consumer finds your store in-person, online, or via a mobile app, the method they use to make their final purchase can not necessarily be guaranteed according to the method they used to find you. Everything is now interchangeable and while it may seem ludicrous that our world that seeks immediate satisfaction might temper those impulses for a better product, it is now a given. Most customers won’t buy any product anywhere without having completed some measure of research beforehand.

Phygital Meets Unified Commerce

So what does this mean for retailers? For the most part, it simply means you have to stay ahead of the curve. You need to explore new ways to engage your customers both digitally and physically to make purchasing through your particular outlet as easy and stress-free as possible. To do this, you need to understand your customer – how they shop, where they shop, and what technologies they use to shop. These are the basic tenets of the newest retail company method of operation under a phygital-guided model known as Unified Commerce. Unified commerce takes multi-channel commerce, phygital trends, and the resulting data and streamlines the internal process so that the shopping experience appears simple and flawless from the perspective of the consumer.

The Importance of Data

Leveraging your consumer data is no simple task, indeed, but one that is necessary to survive as a retailer in the 21st century. It lives at the center of the phygital cyborg; it’s the living heart that beats inside Robocop. Nothing else functions without it. And yet, many retailers are hitting the same roadblocks when attempting to transfer their databases, data processes, and data storage and management to a Unified Commerce model.

In our newest white paper, Achieving Unified Commerce in the Data-Driven Retail Industry, I not only outline the core issues of the top three data challenges you are facing, but also provide four service solutions that can enable your company to power through these roadblocks and build the foundation of a consumer-friendly, phygital business. I’ve also included the stories of your counterparts who have made the necessary changes and thrived. The challenges this paper addresses include:

  • Prioritizing Overwhelming Volumes of Data
  • Breaking Out of Data Silos
  • Cross-Departmental Collaboration

Robocop may be ancient history now, but phygital is continuing to gain ground. Download the white paper here to take the first steps towards institutionalization of the phygital universe by way of the new model of unified commerce.

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