Can You Deliver the ‘Phygital’ Experience Customers Want?
It’s true: American consumers love shopping online. But are they ready to abandon in-store shopping? Not anytime soon. Data from the popular traffic and navigation app Waze shows visits to retail locations are up significantly in 2023.
What consumers really want is the best of both worlds. They want to blend digital and physical shopping experiences as it suits them, and they expect retailers to meet them wherever they are.
This hybrid — or “phygital” — approach to shopping puts new demands on retailers to create an omnichannel customer experience that's both seamless and personalized. Are you ready to get phygital? If so, do these three important things.
Know Your Customers Well
Experience can create the sense you already know who your customers are. However, is the picture in your mind backed by data? Is it infused with rich detail? All good relationships are built on a foundation of true understanding, and today, you must go deeper than ever before.
Not every business has a large or detailed customer database to mine for insights. Most of the traffic that comes into stores or to websites comes and goes anonymously — i.e., personal details aren’t captured, especially those that can make their next shopping experience personalized and special. Many retail businesses simply don’t have the mechanisms in place.
Even those starting with limited information can quickly build out a more detailed audience picture using modern methods. Data analytics techniques can capture IP addresses and mobile device information that sheds light on the dark, helping retail businesses build out rich and detailed personas of previously unknown shoppers.
Acquiring this knowledge will tell you a lot about who your customers are and the demographic, psychographic, geographic and behavioral factors that influence their buying behaviors.
Collect First-Party Data to Personalize
Unlocking the full potential of phygital shopping means not only catering to how customers want to shop today, but also for what and why. More than 70 percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions — and an even greater percentage get frustrated when they don’t.
Particularly in light of Google’s phase-out of third-party cookies, which historically have been a key way to gather audience intelligence, retail businesses should prioritize the holistic collection of first-party data. Beyond your website, other sources of information can include mobile apps, social media, customer service data, store foot traffic analysis, periodic surveys or loyalty programs.
With first-party data that’s unique to your customers and business, it’s possible to better personalize the shopping experience across online and offline touchpoints. This means tailored product recommendations, targeted promotions, and relevant content that makes the buyer’s journey more engaging and meaningful.
Make Omnichannel Shopping Seamless
An exceptional customer experience can’t always be easily defined because nowadays it’s not a singular thing or linear path. Though there’s heavy emphasis on digital shopping today, it’s important to remember that digital has a strong influence on in-store behavior as well. Hybrid buyers' journeys can be very nuanced, encompassing different variations of buy online, pick up in-store; research online, buy in-store; and look in-store, buy online.
Customer-centric retailers understand that the omnichannel buyer’s journey is here to stay. How can you add value at each step?
A seamless approach works in concert to create positive experiences that guide toward a purchase. For example, do you have processes in place to quickly send your website visitors an enticing in-store direct mail offer, or show visitors to your store a digital ad that leads them back to your website?
By paying attention to which offers your customers respond to and in which channels, this data will reveal the patterns of behavior and preferences that help to build connection and loyalty. Don’t miss the opportunity to get direct input when possible. During key interactions, find opportunities to gather information about customer preferences that will keep your retail experience uniquely on point.
Creating a great phygital shopping experience is ultimately about an approach that keeps the customer at the center. By combining insights from both online and offline interactions, retailers can build strong relationships with customers as they move fluidly between the two worlds.
Keith Snow is the president of B2E Data Marketing, which provides customer intelligence and data-driven marketing campaigns to retailers and franchise businesses.
Related story: Why Retailers Must Embrace the 'Phygital' Experience