Why Retail needs to go Phygital?

Arpit Srivastava on Retail

Arpit Srivastava, Country Marketing and Branding Manager, South Asia & Thailand, Lenzing Group sheds light on the relevance & the need for the retail brands to go phygital with the ongoing pandemic as means to leapfrog forward.

Post Covid-19 scenario

COVID-19 has truly been a watershed moment for the country. There was no playbook for any business to manage the changes that the global pandemic has brought with it. With consumer consumption taking a massive dip due to lockdown, retail even today continues to be most affected besides tourism and hospitality. Having said that, Unlock 1.0 has brought some respite as things slowly limp back. This period will be a litmus test for marketers across the country as they look for ways to bring their audience back.

While brands are largely focused on traditional offline marketing with digital as an afterthought, that has completely changed the game. Marketers need to rethink and reimagine the concept of retail. This may be the push traditional retailers need to prioritize their digital offerings to properly compete with the bigger giants. This global pandemic has made us realize that we need a hybrid model that consists of physically coupled with a digital presence. This shouldn’t only be restricted to a website or a Facebook page, but marketing efforts too can’t be ignored.

Why Phygital is here to stay?

According to an April 2020 report by EY, Indian retailers will need to devise strategies for the “now”, “next” and “beyond”.

The consumer behavior (how they consume, shop, live, use technology, work, and move) will shift across three horizons, leading from the “now” phase to the “beyond”. Keeping in line with the “beyond”, phygital will come into play in a major way post-COVID-19. We have seen global brands go Phygital long before the pandemic hit us. For a year or so, we have seen product launches on Instagram and digital-first previews before the merchandise hits the store.

For the uninitiated, Phygital could describe a blended experience of a consumer’s journey that involves both physical and digital touchpoints.

Consumers themselves are Phygital; they exist in both the physical and digital worlds, and they participate in the retail world in both places as sometimes in-store experiences invoke purchase and vice versa. Therefore, it makes sense for marketers and retailers to inhabit this same space between the physical and digital worlds and meet consumers there.

In a post COVID19 scenario, consumers will look for a more immersive experience; a personalized one that will ultimately break through the noise, and thoughtful creative and experiences that drive people to feel, think or act. Hence, retailers need to break out from the traditional one-dimensional zone and consider incorporating phygital in their strategy.

Also read: How can COVID-19 be the much-needed change-maker for OOH

How retail brands can go Phygital

VR, Chatbots, podcasts/webinars can be further enhanced and could be used to deliver a Phygital experience for your customers. The incredibly popular Pokemon Go was a very successful and well-known example of Phygital marketing. This game, in which players picked up Pokemon at various points in the form of augmented reality, provided an unprecedented opportunity for marketers to reach consumers.

Retailers can identify where your target market is spending time and attention such as Instagram, Twitter, and insert the brand at the intersections of those properties. From gaming to shopping, retailers are leveraging the popularity of AR to enhance the consumer experience and drive sales.

A prime example is fashion retailer Lacoste, who introduced an app that used AR to allow mobile users to try on virtual shoes. Lenskart and other eyewear retailers offer you 3D Try-ons to give an idea about the look of the product.

Retailers can invite admirers of a product showcased on Instagram to a Facebook Live stream offering a product demonstration or install smart fitting rooms that are interactive in their stores.

Phygital can also greatly increase consumer retail shopping experience. Keeping this in mind, the brands are looking at building a strong content creation and curation platform as consumers are consuming more content today and are looking for intelligent, authentic, and relatable content that they can connect with.

Relooking into the marketing strategy

Consumers enjoy the interactive experience of being able to see and touch products in a physical store and talk with sales personnel. In India, the whole experience is planned, and it allows families and friends to even spend time together. While COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has put a pause on any physical experiences, consumers will flock to eCommerce websites to shop once the relaxations are in place, even the most reluctant ones. They are already window-shopping on these platforms. This would give way to taking a different approach to engage with these audiences.

In general, we are observing events budgets being re-distributed to content and digital experiences. Virtual events that are bringing cross-industry thought leaders together to discuss common issues. We must comprehend what our consumers’ wants, needs, and perceptions have changed during this crisis so that our offering and communications remain valuable and relevant to peoples’ lives during and following COVID-19.

This article piece is authored by Arpit Srivastava, Country Marketing and Branding Manager, South Asia & Thailand, Lenzing Group



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