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Blending Physical and Digital: Creating a Phygital Customer Experience

5 min read

We live in a digital world, where buying products online is common. And in the last few years, the pandemic accelerated behavioral changes in the way we shop, and digital purchases grew.

Despite the convenience of online shopping, many people missed the experience visiting shops and interacting with the sales team. To address this, marketing must evolve along with shopping habits and create a new concept to blend a brick-and-mortar presence with an e-commerce experience.

A shift in consumer behavior has required marketing strategies to adjust along with it. The best marketing takes advantage of everything the customer has to offer. Nowadays, digital technology is a big part of everyday life, so marketers need strategies that account for it. It is what drove digital marketing to grow.

The physical elements of brick-and-mortar establishments still appeal to consumers. This has given rise to phygital marketing, which incorporates both digital and physical aspects that matter to consumers. Perhaps you’ve heard of this term before. Regardless, essential business executives and marketers should be familiar with it.

What Is Phygital?

Phygital is a word created by combining the words physical and digital. The term was first used during the COVID-19 pandemic, although its precise origin is unclear. During this time, we observed more companies adapting their strategies quickly to digitally accomplish tasks that had previously been done in person. 

Grocery shopping is one example. Consumers are now more comfortable using a mobile app to “walk the aisles” for them, as demonstrated by curbside pickup solutions and delivery programs offered by mass retailers. 

You can also use your phone to view a restaurant’s menu, pay for gas without touching a terminal, and monitor your health using a connected device. In the context of customer experience, it’s clear that the blending of physical and digital is here to stay.

What Is A Phygital Customer Experience?

If you want to create a successful phygital strategy, you must consider the customer experience journey. For instance, your convenience store may offer curbside pickup of quick meals through its mobile app, but if you don’t properly train your store associates to use it, you won’t have a successful phygital experience (or a good customer experience). 

It isn’t uncommon to find five-star mobile apps with a 1-star rating when the out-of-app experience wasn’t in line with the in-app expectation. This is bad because it negatively impacts customer satisfaction. Getting to market quickly shouldn’t come at the expense of the associate or customer. 

To succeed, you need to consider the type of customer experience you want your users to have. Simply having a mobile app or website isn’t enough. Your digital experiences must be optimized for the physical experience that most customers will have with your brand.

How to Create A Successful Phygital Experience

The key to delivering a great physical experience to customers is to understand what they care about, how they want to shop, and how they prefer to interact with brands.

Companies can improve customer service with phygital experiences, such as seamlessly switching customers from a chatbot to a human contact center agent if they have a complex issue, or adding human agents to complement digital solutions.

The best elements of your digital strategy should be combined with the best elements of your physical strategy to create a strong phygital experience. The discovery of new items and the ability to physically touch products is one of the most common reasons why customers shop in stores. 

It is also important for them to be able to find things quickly. Walmart capitalizes on both desires by making customers’ smartphones an integral part of their in-store shopping experience. With the app, customers can get prices, see what’s in stock, and find directions to the item in-store as well as compare prices, read reviews, and explore other areas of the store. 

A strong phygital experience results from combining physical and digital elements. Customers want the option to shop online or in person at any time from the same brands. 

Phygital experiences understand customers’ needs and provide excellent digital tools and in-person experiences to switch between channels seamlessly. Phygital is the future, and brands must blur the line and provide great experiences.

Why It Is Important to Have Phygital Strategies

Assessing your current customer experience must be the first step in creating a phygital strategy. What challenges do customers face? Are there any moments of achievement they have that you would like to invest in more? 

By gathering these types of insights, you’ll be able to create a physical experience that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations. Are there any ways in which you can integrate physical and digital experiences more effectively? 

You want to create the kind of immersive engagement the customer finds so effortless that it becomes silent utility – it works so smoothly that there is no feedback from the customer. When everything works for your customers and it is so simple for them to engage with your brand, you know you have a great strategy.

Phygital Digital Marketing Examples

Below are some examples (our checklist) of phygital digital marketing:

Social Media

It is becoming easier to set up a digital storefront for brick-and-mortar businesses through social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and others.

Pop-Up Shops

Creating a pop-up store is one way to add a physical component to online businesses. Data from your online customer base can help you determine where your customers are and where a pop-up shop would be most beneficial.

Pop-up shops offer businesses the opportunity to reach out to new customers, gather insights and build brand loyalty.

Specialty Shows and Niche Markets

Special events provide an opportunity for online companies to interact directly with customers. Today, virtual shows provide an exciting new way to connect with people.

Google My Business

For brick-and-mortar shops, Google My Business is a great way to engage with customers. Upload images, offer promotions, and create deals. Google Maps business listings for local SEO businesses can alert people to your location.

The data collected can help you analyze the effectiveness of your listing. Both your physical shop and your online listing can be improved with this information.

Shopping without cashier

Amazon created Amazon Go, a great example of how online and offline can blend. By using Amazon’s Al and walk-out technology, people can easily get real-life products with the convenience and technology they expect.

Phygital Is Humanizing the Customer Experience

When designing customer experiences, companies without a holistic view of phygital should consider the following steps:

  • Put the customer at the center of their strategies will help them think human-first.
  • To enhance consumer engagement, use the five senses and maximize sensory input in the digital space.
  • Enhance continuity across different channels by sharing and communicating the brand’s values.
  • Accurately and contextually understand how technology is used by consumers.
  • Focus on the complementarity and coherence between channels in creating phygital experiences that attract customers to the physical store.

When thinking about phygital, keep in mind that it’s not just an IT strategy. A customer-centric and holistic approach is required. 

To embrace phygital thinking, companies must consider consumers’ functional and emotional values in the physical space of their consumption experience and translate them into a phygital continuum to determine how they evolve before, during, and after the process. While moving from physical to digital and vice versa, the value delivered should remain coherent and consistent.


To enhance their customer service experiences, companies are increasingly blending physical and digital channels. The two worlds are no longer separate. In this digital age, you won’t survive if you don’t think about how technology can improve efficiency and service.

Integrating them is another matter. Identify customer friction points and see if technology can help. But don’t let technology lead the way; always put the customer first.

Ensure seamless phygital experiences are delivered by eliminating company silos. Customer service, sales, marketing, and technology all contribute to a great phygital experience. Make sure you test the technology slowly with select customer focus groups and don’t forget to keep the human touch in mind. 

It is impossible to rely exclusively on technology to relieve pain points because no technology is perfect. Phygital experiences are the way of the future, but the human touch will remain king in both digital and physical settings.