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Retail Learning, Retail Events Let’s get phygital! What I’ve learned about balancing in-store and online 

March 12, 2019   By: Sara Ellis-Jack

Over the past few months, I’ve been given a crash course in #phygital. I still can’t think of it without the term without singing Olivia Newton John in my head, but the term has come to mean so much more than an 80’s exercise video.  

Phygital was one of the key themes of Day 1 of New Retail ’19 and the foundation for the Rocketeers of Retail. The term refers to a continued blurring of boundaries between the online and offline worlds of retail. I first found the term on a Shippit blog and a Google search will tell you that phygital is the bridging between the digital world and physical world.  

For retailers; this is all about the customer and an expectation that you can no longer be simply online, or instore in your presence. We all know that customer is the driving force of change in the retail world and almost every retailer I talk to is consumed by enhancing customer experience. So the change is being driven by an expectation that your products will be both online and in-store and there needs to be a seamless experience between the two. The current world of retail is disruptive and to survive, you need to deliver an omnichannel experience to enable your customer to buy exactly what they want, when they want it and have it arrive tomorrow. 

I can’t take the credit for everything I’ve learned about #phygital retail – thank you to our fantastic speakers at the recent #rocketeers events in Melbourne and Sydney who dished out some valuable lessons for those looking to move in-store from their eCommerce platforms.  

For those of you who missed it, here are the top tips from our rocketeers pioneering a phygital presence. 

rocketeers of retail

Know why you’re going offline.  

Fantastic advice from Nick Pape – Booktopia. Although it’s important to be aware of key retail trends and be ahead of the retail game, don’t jump into a retail store without understanding the motivation and why. Are your customers going to visit you? What do they want from an in-store experience? Does your product need to be smelled, touched or tried on? Does it make sense for you to develop your in-store presence? This definitely needs to be first on your checklist. 

Test the concept. 

Many of our speakers highlighted the importance of testing what you’re doing before investing into a store. Starting small and getting to know your customers through markets and pop-up stores before investing into a permanent physical space will help you ensure that you’re working on a product people actually want to buy and you’ll learn more (by talking to them) on how to sell to your customer, what your customer looks like, and where they want to buy. Invaluable research!  

Go above and beyond with your experience. 

Kellie Rigney from Zjoosh had some great examples of things they do to go beyond expectations with their customer like free delivery of larger items (like a lamp) for customers so they don’t have to have it sandwiched between people on the train, or individually wrapping gifts for customers with beautiful ribbons and paper. Courtney Holm from A.BCH has a sewing machine on her shop floor to bring customers face to face with how the garments are made and showcase their quality. Think about how you can curate something special and exciting for your customers and deliver that to them face to face.  

Support the digital experience – find some ‘digital friends’ 

You can thank Matt Green from Ritmo for throwing out the term ‘influencer’ and subbing in ‘digital friends’. Digital friends will spread awareness of your brand. Call them what you want – key opinion leader, influencer, brand ambassador – having the right support to get the right people buying your product is important. You don’t have to go big or go home, but you do need to pick people who are the right fit and embody your brand. 

Don’t do it all at once. 

Valuable lessons shared by Phil Miles from Miligram (now Telegram), who was actually in the process of curating one of their stores at the time of our event – don’t do it all at once. The age old saying of knowing what you’re going to do and doing it well is exceptionally true for moving into in-store retail. I recently heard that you’re capable of doing 5 things well, give or take 2 of those. To be safe, pick no more than 3 things and do them really well. Develop your in-store experience, connect to your customer and continue to deliver your online experience.  

Get the right help. 

We support Rocketeers of Retail because we want to help people grow their retail businesses. One of the things we heard from almost every speaker is that they wish they asked for help earlier. Whether you need a peer to tell you how they did it, or more professional help with integrated POS software, inventory management tools or someone to help you grow – take the time to reflect on what you need and ask for help! If you don’t know where to start, we’re here to assist. 

We’ll be hosting Rocketeers of Retail events throughout the year with top tips, insight and lessons learned for the retail community – subscribe to our LinkedIn or Facebook for updates. 

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