Phygital disruption through technology innovation: Harshavardhan Chauhan, Central Marketing Head, DLF Shopping Malls
Technology gives the brand a chance to better the consumer experience by giving them tools they can benefit from writes Harshavardhan Chauhan of DLF Shopping Malls
Technology has lately been an enabler of better performance in the retail industry. Whether it is about facilitating superior customer service or greater operational efficiency; the retail ecosystem is always fostering all sorts of technological collaborations that can exhibit possibilities to enhance the overall experience for any and everyone associated with the sector. Making technology an ideal catalyst that can bring about exciting innovations followed by breathtaking disruptions.
It is a general motion, that as a retailer you have to have something distinct and unique that makes you different from other retailers in the market. You have to constantly implement innovative strategies and harness the power of technology in order to stay high up in the game. With an established pitch perfect physical store, what else can you do? Your consumer is better connected, explores experiences, and expects more; so what capacity of consumer evolution can you work towards?
In order to satiate this blazing need, technological innovation led to the advent of a life-altering phenomenon – Digital. When applied, retailers and brands realised that a digital strategy was extremely effective in attracting customers. Application of digital components when synced with technology into buying and selling was the ideal way of communicating with customers. All they needed was a digital presence to keep up with today’s generation of millennials who began expecting everything available at one-click. Voila, they were ready to ride the wave of the digital revolution.
The whole experience was extremely gripping unless they realised they were funnelling their customers in one direction. Instead of complimenting both their channels (Online and offline), they were making digital and physical competitors. Drawing customers away from one, and towards the other; causing crucial limitations. This scenario was becoming extremely complex and it was clear that a solution was needed that could focus on digital, while simultaneously innovating with the in-store experience.
Thus, the concept of PHYGITAL retail landed into existence, creating the perfect balance between e-commerce and brick-and-mortar, which could result in a seamless experience for all. PHYGITAL – a perfect bridge between offline users and online consumers giving them the best of both worlds. Leveraging the best of technology, entertainment, engagement, utility and data; phygital is gradually becoming a critical disruptor that is having a profound impact on shoppers and retailers.
This experience does not begin after one enters the mall, it begins way before that. Interactive digital displays all around us, entice consumers to make a quick visit to the mall; mobile payment apps that give them the assurance of visiting a mall anytime they want since they can now go cashless; free Wi-Fi options that gets them connected to the outside world; the wholesome experience of using the senses -touch, sight, sound, and taste combined with speedy access gives a version one could never imagine before. These are some basic novelties that further accelerate the phygital experience for the customer. It is becoming the best mode to enrich a customer’s shopping journey by delighting them no matter where they are.
Meanwhile, it is not just about the consumer. Phygital disruption is a fundamental shift which is compelling retailers to build on. It gives retailers the opportunity to bring in greater levels of operational efficiency and customer centricity in their business models.
How? Emerging technologies like Virtual reality, augmented reality, Internet of things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data Analytics are making it possible to mix physical and digital to create an all-new customer experience that could let them shop online the same way they would in retail stores, without any disruption. Imagine the ability to place an order, collect, return, or exchange products via the web, mobile, desktop, as well as through physical stores. Or imagine the ability to shop online while being physically present in the brand's outlet.
Technology makes the whole experience relevant, timely and useful blended well with convenience, quality, value and transparency. It gives the brand a chance to better the consumer experience by giving them tools they can benefit from. Imagine stepping into a store, seeing a piece of furniture and wondering how it is going to look, only to find out later that it doesn’t match at all. Time money and effort, all becomes a waste. But, not anymore. Artificial Reality has made it possible for customers to simply check out a catalogue, scan the image barcode and point their smartphone camera at the location they think would suit the bill and see how it would look in the space. Not just for furniture, but AR helps shoppers decide, what looks good on them in terms, of clothes, makeup, accessories through virtual trial rooms. This kind of convenience brought in by technology lets the customers see what is happening with the brand, interact and engage with it, create brand loyalty.
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
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