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Phygital: Changing retail landscape during COVID-19

The phygital retail space combines the best of both worlds – the tactile satisfaction of physical retail and the intuitiveness of ecommerce.

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The ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown have impacted the retail industry in a major way not only in India but also globally. The market scenario is changing every day and the retail industry to has to make necessary amendments within a very less time. It becomes crucial for the industry to think and get them prepared about the long-term implications and remediate the shorter-term shocks.

Retailers are also struggling with curtailed timing of markets, temporary store closures, furlough of store associates, a shift in consumer behaviour and disrupted supply chains. In such a scenario, phygital shopping experiences have come as a rescue. Though the latest trend is currently in its initial hiccup phase, it also needs time, some adjustments, experimentation and a little friction before it becomes a common trend both for the retailers and consumers. 

What is phygital? 

As the name suggests, phygital shopping experience is a conglomeration of both the physical and digital worlds. It provides a platform of immediacy, interaction and immersion for the consumers. As the differences between the physical and digital worlds are getting blurred, we are currently witnessing a very crucial time in Indian retail.  With the better mobile connectivity and affordable data packages, the industry is all set to accelerate the adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT) in the retail sector. The phygital retail space combines the best of both worlds – the tactile satisfaction of physical retail and the intuitiveness of ecommerce.

How Phygital experience is changing the scenario?

Since embracing technology is the only way out to survive your business in the pandemic, companies are exploring and innovating a new successful business model through phygital. The phygital communications can help retailers get even closer to their customers and drive a strong ROI. However, doing this effectively is a challenge for many retailers. 

Technological advancements like  AI and IoT are enabling the retail brands in tracking the assets for efficiency, footfalls, information on shopping habits and patterns, customer feedback and more. These technology-powered data not only helps brands improve their brand positioning but also provides leverage in promotion, product, pricing, and shopping experience. For consumers, technology helps them navigate through the stores using a store map. They can set shopping reminders, select, enquire, buy, and make payment for the product using their smartphone. There are already multiple latest technologies that are extremely beneficial including contactless payments and digital receipts during the times of social distancing.

Future of phygital shopping experience in India

Over the next couple of years, majority of all the retail companies and stores will be offering phygital shopping experience in more than one way. As consumers have evolved, then it won’t be a task for them to shift between physical and digital space. With the advent of omnichannel platforms, online shopping has seen a surge in giving a pleasurable shopping experience to the consumers. But that doesn’t completely rule out the relevance of the brick-and-mortar stores. As far the retail is concerned, it will always hold relevance.  Due to the crisis, we are standing at a time where the Phygital ecosystem is the need of the hour and will be instrumental in shaping the future of retail. Hence, the industry is focusing on new phygital technologies to redefine the dynamics of the retail world.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Phygital phygital eCommerce marketplace

Leo Shastri

Director - Operations & Strategy, Usha Exim Private Limited

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