2021 was particularly tough on retailers and with the ongoing uncertainty of rolling lockdowns, supply chain shortages and price inflation, many have struggled to deal with the economic fall-out from the pandemic. However, retailers that embrace innovation and create a seamless connection between the physical shopping experience and digital technologies are more successful in navigating the negative impacts of the pandemic. And let’s face it, with no real end to this pandemic in sight, the future of retail is ‘phygital’.
Here are three things retailers can do to adopt a ‘phygital’ model in 2022:
1. Retailers need to simulate the tangible shopping experience online by adopting new technology like virtual reality (VR) dressing rooms with augmented reality (AR) and artificial intelligence (AI) so consumers can see what an outfit looks like without physically trying it on. Having a personal virtual shopping assistant or chatbot is also a great way to provide that in-store shopping advice and replicate the browsing element of in-store shopping by using AI to provide customized curated recommendations. That is where data comes in.
2. Utilize data and information along with AI and machine learning to provide a personalized shopping experience that caters to individual consumers’ expectations and needs. These interactions will also create insights that will help retailers reduce returns and make smarter inventory decisions. For example, one person’s experience (items, offers, and ads) would be completely different from that of another on the same site. It can even be taken to the next level so that when a consumer visits a brick and mortar location their preferences are already known by the consultants.
3. Finally, while the autonomous vehicle or drone delivery is in our not-too-distant future, for 2022 recreate that instant shopping gratification which can be mimicked by leveraging last-mile delivery from the store through third-party delivery apps, so consumers can receive their package in hours as opposed to days. These services could also be utilized to process returns.
By going ‘phygital’ retailers are shortening the distance between screen and product, ultimately creating a more seamless, personalized, and enjoyable customer experience.
Partner, Customer and Digital Experiences, Greater Toronto Area (GTA) Consumer and Retail Industry Lead at KPMG
Katie is passionate about designing, building, and activating innovative customer experiences and helping clients transform to become more customer-centric and digitally enabled. She is a seasoned facilitator, aligning multiple stakeholders around a common vision and transformation path to propel future growth. She combines strategy, innovation, market insight, co-design stakeholder sessions, creative design, and digital solutions to bring clients’ customer vision to life through front-office transformation