The phygital trend: a good thing or not?

A post by Frédéric PAILLET, MSc student in Digital Marketing @KEDGE Business School. 

PAILLET 1

Day after day we can see in retail spaces the emergence of more and more digital platforms. I am sure that, like me, most of you have seen these and wondered, what is that? How does it work? With these platforms, customers can, for example, check the product offer on interactive terminals, they can see demonstration of product on TV screen and many other things. But are all of these digital platforms really interesting for brands who decided to implant them in their stores?

In this article, we are trying to identify what are the arguments for and the arguments against the utilization of this type of platforms in retail space.

First, the arguments for:

The “phygitalisation” allows brands creating a real customer experience in their store and improving and facilitating customers’ shopping . Customers can have more information about the product, more quickly. Moreover, the experiences into the store are more playful and allow to the customers to have a good time. Sellers can be more efficient because they can use tablets to find information more quickly. Moreover, “phygitalisation” allows concluinge sales which would not have been done in the past. For example, before the digitalisation, when a product was not available for size or colours reasons, the sale failed. Today, the seller can find the product in another store and propose to the customer to deliver it at home in two days.

For all of these reasons, the “phygitalisation” of retail space is a good things for brands and for customers, but on the condition that is it done in an intelligent way.

Second, the arguments against:

For some customers, the utilization of digital platforms is difficult and it’s not unusual to find them deserted by customers because there are no people to help them use them. In consequence, that makes the usefulness of this type of platforms flawed, and particularly unnecessary. Moreover, most of the time, sellers are not trained to use these platforms and are, as a consequence, powerless to help customers with it. The last more common argument for detractors of these platforms is the loss of human contact in stores.

To conclude, digital platforms in a store are a good thing for brands and for customers, but it is also required to have trained staff so they can help customers to use them. Even customers can appreciate the utility of these platforms and to keep the human relation with the seller. The most important thing to understand for a brand is that “phygitalisation” is not a tool which allows to spend less time with customers but rather to improve customer experiences and to allow customers to enjoy moments spent in store.

Frédéric PAILLET

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