Shopping is now ‘phygital’: why we will never abandon the physical experience

We are at a time when purchases are already an individual decision for each person , that is, the retail sector must adapt to an experience that is more like something like ‘choose your own adventure’ than forcing the customer to go through certain procedures that no one -or almost no one- wants to go through. This coming trend is the ‘phygital’.

“We have been ‘spoiling’, so that we have reached a point where users can decide between many ways to live our shopping experience and it will be the stores that have to adapt to how we want to buy, and not the other way around”, says Álvaro Martínez-Etayo, Chief Phygital Officer (CPO) at Jogo Tech.

How did we get to this point? Until not long ago, the commerce sector was nourished by traditional, completely analogue stores : they were establishments that you could not know anything about until you went there to buy and in them you met expert vendors in their area, who They knew everything about the product, but they didn’t know anything about you.

When the digitalization process of the retail sector began , the first thing that became clear was that stores should have something as simple as a web page so that customers know something about the business before going : where it is, what products it sells, what range establishes prices… This type of information allows users to make a first decision, choose whether or not to go to the establishment based on whether it is close, if it has what they are looking for, if it is within their budget…

The next step in this digital transformation was the appearance of digital platforms -yes, we are talking about Amazon and all those who followed the strategy of Jeff Bezos’s company-. This change, especially to the more traditional establishments, was seen as a total enemy , since e- commerce represented a new type of competition that, in addition, at least at first glance, is cheaper as it does not need a physical or personal location. which allows them to further adjust their sales margins.With these electronic stores, a new option appears to the customer: choose whether to buy in the physical establishment or at home, from your sofa and in your pajamas . The comfort factor comes into play in a way never thought of before and traditional ‘retailers’ are beginning to throw their hands up, thinking that it is the end of their sector as they understood it.

Thus, the response of the brands was to create their own online store , that is, to virtually replicate the trade, with its stock and all the information on each product. “ The problem with this is that the digital store did not ‘talk’ to the physical store, even creating a situation of competition between them , since what was sold in the digital part was seen as something that took away the benefit of the physical part ”, underlines Martínez-Etayo, and adds: “they had set up the enemy at home”.

According to the expert, this individualistic dynamic “would inevitably end in disaster.” “It was like watching a steam locomotive and a super innovative bullet train collide,” he says. It is from this collision that the ‘phygital’ is born.

‘Phygital’ is a space in which the physical and the digital converge , in which people can have a 100% physical shopping experience “as they have done all their lives: with cash in their pockets, in a store in the street where the garments are displayed, buying a product that is tried on in a fitting room and taking it home in a bag”.

But it can also be a 100% digital process : while at home, the customer sees the item they want from an app or the web, looks up which store it is available in, reserves it and goes to the establishment, reserves a fitting room and tries it on, pay in the application from the mobile and take it without having to interact with anyone. Or even send it to your home.

And from these two completely opposite poles, thousands of intermediate situations could be drawn that mix both worlds . The advantage is that you control how much you want to interact with the store, that is, for example, you can have very detailed information in your application profile and thus the sales associates know more about you, so that they can recommend items according to your tastes. and preferences.

In relation to the latter, as Martínez-Etayo points out, an important figure stands out again: that of the dependent . There had come a time when we informed ourselves so much before making a purchase that we had more knowledge than the shopkeeper himself, so that the real value of this was in doubt. With the ‘phygital’ the store staff knows you and knows what you have searched for and what you want, and thus can be previously trained to give you advice on your purchase.

“At last it is understood that the customer is a single person, whether they buy physically or digitally , so that their experience must also be unique, wherever they are and however they behave,” underlines the expert.Martínez-Etayo considers that the consumer has become very lazy and “very pampered” . “It is someone who is at home, has multi-screen solutions, is watching Netflix while using the mobile to chat and to order a Glovo and also has the work laptop on top…”, the ambassador of the ‘phygital’ exaggerates a bit – or not-.