As brands develop new digital experiences to meet changing customer preferences, the next step is to create compelling hybrid experiences. Consumers are shopping in both the physical and digital worlds, so it is now critical to unify these experiences and create integrated in-store and online customer journeys. Doing so requires a holistic and integrated approach, to everything from marketing and product information, to content management and customer data.
Related reading: Unified Commerce – The Future of Retail Experience
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Hybrid Shopping Experience – What is it?
- The Physical Shopping Experience is Not Going Anywhere
- The Pandemic Accelerated the Shift Towards Phygital Shopping
- Hybrid Customers Have a Higher Lifetime Value
- Hybrid Experiences Require an Integrated Ecommerce Strategy
- Benefits of Hybrid Experiences
- How Vaimo Can Help
In the wake of the pandemic, most brands have become more adept at digital delivery. Now, the challenge is to create a great customer experience that spans both the physical and digital.
And the race to do so, and to do it well, is already on. According to a survey of 1,000 global executives, 75% stated they plan to increase investments in hybrid experiences over the next 12 months. And when doing so, they cited areas like increased personalization (43%), innovation (43%), customer connection (40%), and inclusion (38%) among the top priorities.
In this article, we’ll have a closer look at hybrid experiences. What they are, why they matter, and how to succeed in delivering them to your target audience. Let’s dive in, shall we?
Hybrid Shopping Experience – What is it?
Hybrid shopping experiences are commerce experiences that combine elements of digital commerce and in-person physical shopping. While the digital part happens online, the physical aspect can take place, for example, in a store, at an event, or over the phone.
Hybrid experiences are sometimes referred to as phygital experiences, a term merging the words physical and digital into one. This crossover between the natural world and the digital arena is not new and became even more common during the pandemic. One example of a hybrid experience is the so-called BOPIS (Buy Online Pick-up In-Store), which helped save numerous businesses during COVID-19.
The Physical Shopping Experience is Not Going Anywhere
While digital shopping continues to increase, physical shopping experiences will remain important. Market research firm Forrester predicts that in-store shopping will continue to dominate retail, accounting for as much as 72% of all sales in 2024. And different kinds of hybrid shopping experiences are likely to keep accelerating. Because whether for convenience, price, or selection, even as more consumers shop online, they have continued to shop in their favorite retailers’ brick-and-mortar stores as well.
Many customers simply don’t want to trade the in-store experience for a fully digital one. They may appreciate the personal service or the ability to view and touch the products before making a purchase. So instead of going solely digital, many consumers use the digital experience to enhance their in-store experience and vice versa.
Examples of phygital shopping experiences:
- Interactive product descriptions
- Livestream ecommerce
- QR codes in ecommerce
- Wearable tech
- Real-world customer centers
- Interactive KIOSK solutions
Related reading: What Is A Phygital Experience? 6 Real-World Examples
A typical pattern is that people do the research, educate themselves, and compare prices online. But when it’s time to buy the product, many people still prefer doing it in-person and over the counter. Below are some stats to illustrate these trends:
- More than 70% of consumers feel no concerns about returning to in-store shopping
- 55% of shoppers who began their most recent shopping journey online finished it in-person
- 83% of consumers expect flexible shipping and options like BOPIS (buy online, pick up in-store)
- Younger consumers express an even stronger preference for BOPIS, curbside pickup, and different contactless payment options.
Related reading: Enhance your Ecommerce Strategy with Click-and-Collect
The Pandemic Accelerated the Shift Towards Phygital Shopping
While consumers valued shopping safely online during COVID-19, many now embrace physical alternatives again. The pandemic caused a dramatic jump in digital retail spending, but data shows that the pandemic didn’t entirely redefine and transform consumers nor the market. What the pandemic did do was accelerate an already existing trend, where consumers want to be able to switch seamlessly between different digital channels and between the online and offline world within the same shopping journey.
Related reading: Infographic: Consumer Behavior in 2022
Hybrid Customers Have a Higher Lifetime Value
According to the 2019 State of ecommerce study, many customers prefer hybrid experiences over entirely online or physical ones. In fact, the study even indicates that the customers that combine more than one channel have a 30% higher lifetime value than those that stick to just one. Companies that deliver strong multi-channel experiences can see a 9.5% increase in annual revenue. This means facilitating hybrid experiences and investing in phygital shopping that wows your customers can dramatically affect your bottom line.
Hybrid Experiences Require an Integrated Ecommerce Strategy
To succeed in creating compelling and seamless hybrid shopping experiences, it’s essential to have an integrated ecommerce strategy and the right technical solutions in place. You need a strategy and tech stack to unify and integrate branding, marketing, product information, and customer data across channels. A frictionless phygital experience requires you to be able to check all those boxes.
Related reading: Optimize Your Digital Customer Experience in 5 Practical Steps
Benefits of Hybrid Experiences
As we’ve already seen, companies who manage to create compelling phygital shopping experiences stand to gain a lot in terms of market share, average deal size, and recurring revenue.
Let’s have a closer look at some of the benefits of investing in hybrid experiences:
An Inspirational Boost and a More Immersive Experience
Combining the different channels and assets of both online and offline marketing allows you to create fuller and more immersive shopping experiences. You can create added value in the real world by adding digital elements to a physical store, for example, through QR codes leading to additional content resources. And by referring online customers to your offline venues and events, you increase your chance of building personal and long-lasting customer relationships.
Improved Opportunities to Research and Learn About your Products
Consumers today prefer to manage most of the buying journey on their own. They want to be able to explore and understand your brand and products on their own terms, in the channels they prefer, and in the times and settings that suit them best. By integrating your physical and digital touchpoints, you provide the best possible opportunities to do so.
While digital tools add enormous value for consumers, such as facilitating easy product research and price comparisons, a predominantly online shopping experience lacks certain features of in-store shopping that many consumers value. Consumers often like seeing, feeling, and testing the product and possible alternatives in person before buying. Consumers also value that in-store shopping allows you to take the product home to use or wear that very same day.
More Options and Greater Flexibility
With a phygital approach, you maximize the number of options your customers can choose from. Whether they prefer to make their purchase online or in-store, an integrated approach will make that possible and seamless. Allowing your customers to select from a range of fulfillment options, such as buying in-store, ordering online for home delivery, or BOPIS or curbside pickup at a local store, will enable you to cater to the greatest number of buyers.
Related reading: Ecommerce Customer Experience Advice for 2022
HOW VAIMO CAN HELP
Customers want options and flexibility. They want to be able to interact with your brand and make sure that they know all there is to know about products before purchasing. By creating hybrid experiences, you allow the most significant number of customers to get to know your brand and your product on their terms and at their own pace. Ultimately, what’s good for the consumer is good for the retailer. And consumers want more accessible, more satisfying experiences.
This means you must think beyond your website and your physical visual merchandising solutions and understand how to unify and integrate all your different touchpoints. When done right, this will help you amplify your marketing investments and reap the benefits of powerful synergies.
At Vaimo, we are omnichannel and phygital pros, and we’re passionate about creating a compelling digital experience that aligns with your business goals. We can help you explore what hybrid strategies are best for your team’s needs and your customers’ expectations.
Ever since hybrid experiences were first used in commerce, we have been helping clients increase their revenue and engage with their customers through an omnichannel, phygital approach. We’re happy to help build a seamless customer experience throughout the customer lifecycle. Get in touch with our team of experts to learn how we can help you.