Let’s Get Phygital!

“Getting phygital” is how companies can offer a personalized, omnichannel experience.

Okay, Olivia Newton-John did not encourage us to Get Phygital but it was too tempting to pass up! So, Let’s Get Phygital!

But what is Phygital?

In theory, phygital can be used to describe anything that crosses or eliminates the line between the physical and digital worlds. One could argue that Olivia Newton-John's use of a music video was an early representation of the physical world (in real life performance) merging with the digital world (televised music video) in a way that prior technology could not (video killed the radio star). However, in modern times, it is most often used to describe a retail experience or a marketing strategy.

“Getting phygital” is how companies can offer a personalized, omnichannel experience. There’s no denying that consumers today are phygital; they exist in both the physical and digital worlds. They enjoy the interaction, trust, and intimacy of the physical world and the immediacy, convenience, and information of the digital world. In fact, studies have shown that consumers often blur the lines between the two. It’s not unusual for consumers to research products online and complete their purchases in person or visit a store to engage with in-store employees and products before purchasing online.

Why is blurring this line important?

Interestingly, as ubiquitous as ecommerce “feels,” it only accounted for around 14% of total global retail sales prior to the pandemic. COVID accelerated the transition online and pushed the percentage to nearly 20% but, as expected, people have returned to their previous routines, habits, and preferences. All indications are that consumers have embraced the immediacy and convenience of digital commerce in all its forms but still crave the trust, confidence, familiarity and personalized experience of physical, in-real life commerce. Additionally, retailers understand that physical commerce retains a considerable advantage in conversion rates, average order values and product return rates.

The challenge for retailers is evident:

How do retailers provide the highly personalized and immersive in-store experience while leveraging the efficiency and instant gratification of the online world?

Let’s look at some cool examples:

  • Sellers can personally assist online shoppers with their purchases using shoppable videoconferencing.
  • Consumers can visualize what their “completed” home improvement projects before they start the project.
  • Online Retailers have added Virtual Fitting Rooms to their online stores.
  • Online Retailers and Influencers can “Push” product to a group of people at an in-person event that participants can immediately add to their carts during the event. 

This is just a small sampling of how the line between the two worlds is blurring. No one can adequately predict where it will all end up. However, we are positive that the world of doors and elevators is merging with the world of portals and wormholes to allow consumers to control and customize their experiences across the digital and physical realms.

What does this mean for Direct Selling?

Direct Selling is the OG of Influencer Marketing and Personal Selling. Direct Sellers love their physical world and all one must do is attend a convention to experience how important the physical world is to the channel. However, direct selling has embraced the digital world and is well poised for the phygital world with its arsenal of personalized experiences and its adoption of the digital ones.

Phygital Direct Selling - Three Scenarios:

Shoppable Video Conferencing:

Imagine a distributor inviting her customers to a shoppable videoconference (like a Zoom meeting) that occurs on her distributor site? It’s personal. It’s digital. It’s Phygital AND it requires a lot less time than IRL Events (In Real Life). It is a great complement to in-real life events or parties with a lot less preparation, cleanup and follow-up.

Digital Assisted Buying:

Imagine an in-person event or party. Now imagine that while the hostess of the event is talking about her exciting products around her kitchen, the products she is presenting appear on her customers’ mobile devices and they can add them directly to their carts DURING the event. Personal. You betcha. Digital. No doubt. Phygital – well, DUH! AND the “hostess” gets credit because the orders are being placed directly on her distributor site!

Livestream Shopping:

Imagine a distributor hosting a LIVE directly on her distributor site and sharing products with hundreds or thousands of her customers and fans that don’t have to leave the LIVE to add the items to the cart.

Should you go phygital?

Retailers are actively leveraging livestreaming technology to humanize the digital experience and digitize the physical experience because the data suggests that customers want to have their cake and eat it too! In other words, customers want the convenience and immediacy of an online transaction with the personalized attention of an in-person transaction. Therefore, the key to the success of digital commerce is “physical commerce.” Who would have thunk it?

Ecommerce didn’t kill Brick and Mortar with a CAT 5 cable in the Metaverse. Instead, the two are learning to play beautifully together. A new world is upon us where the lines between the physical and digital are quickly blurring. There’s no denying that the best customer experiences will be those that are controlled by customers. They will decide where and how they interact with their favorite brands and retailers. Online Conversion Rates, Return Rates, Average Order Values and other key metrics are showing dramatic improvement and are normalizing against the much higher, in-store rates! As always, it pays to let customer have their cakes and eat them too.