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The Future is Phygital: Physical and Digital

Mike Welsh
Publication Date
29 July 2020

The Future is Phygital: Physical and Digital

Phygital: blending physical and digital experiences to create immersive interactions 

You may not realize it, but COVID-19 has accelerated the existence of phygital experiences in your life. No, that wasn’t a typo - phygital experiences are ones in which technology and traditional physical experiences blend so seamlessly that they create new and better ways of accomplishing everyday tasks. We like to say they become immersive because they simply and effortlessly become a convenient part of your everyday life.

A classic example of phygital is using a kiosk. Whether at the airport, a bank, or restaurant, a kiosk makes it possible for users to accomplish routine tasks quickly and efficiently using digital technology in a specific physical space. Just about everyone has used one and they’ve become so commonplace and accepted that most consumers don’t even think about this as a digital experience - it’s just the way things are done.

How will COVID-19 accelerate phygital experiences?

We already see this happening through mobile technology. An easy way to explain the potential of mobile technology is by thinking about your iPhone as the remote control for your life. Think about how you use a mobile app to pre-order take out meals, eliminating the need to enter a restaurant. As more and more consumers are becoming conscious about the ways that illness spreads both during and after the pandemic, imagine how technology could evolve to reduce transmission touchpoints within a physical restaurant environment. A cell phone could eliminate the need for menus, physical bills, and reduce human interactions by enabling restaurant guests to order and pay for their meals from their own mobile device

Shoppers could have the same experience in retail environments as well. Self-service check outs were already nearly ubiquitous before COVID-19, so what if there was no need for a separate self-serve lane at all? Concepts like Amazon Go could be implemented at grocery and other retailers, enabling consumers to check out and pay for their own groceries using the technology they already have in their purse or pocket.

What is the future of phygital in a post-COVID world?  

In the future, true phygital experiences will have an advanced anticipation model. This idea of advanced anticipation is something that I suspect we will hear a lot more about as phygital experiences become more commonplace. Let me explain what I mean.

Many of us have voice-activated remotes. You can speak the name of your favorite television show into your remote and instantly, your TV provider launches your program. But what if your TV and TV provider knew you so well that you didn’t even need to speak into the remote? It knew your preferences and routines and what you wanted to watch. That’s advanced anticipation. It’s like the Netflix strategy – each of us have a Netflix account, but our homescreens (even for family members of the same household) are completely different.

Phygital is about bridging the relationship between a user (human) and activity (company) and making that experience so effortless that your customers don’t even notice that their life has become easier. At Mobiquity, we talk about this a lot. Removing the frictions from a user experience is our specialty. And we truly think that in the post-COVID world, the line between physical and digital experiences will be so blurred, that users won’t even recognize the difference. 

Will customers really want to give me the information required to create these immersive experiences?

Data privacy and security is certainly not an issue that we expect to go away in the future but when it comes to consumer experiences, as long as there is a fair exchange of value, your customers will be willing to provide the information necessary to have the kinds of interactions that they want. Thinking about the Netflix model, consumers are willing to agree to the terms of Netflix so that they can tailor programming to each individual’s unique interests. The same will apply for your company if you provide something that adds value to their lives that they find worthy enough to share their personal information.

Where should I start?

As the world evolves and the difference between digital and physical experiences become the hybrid “phygital,” you’ll want to start by thinking about the strategy that will work best for your business. Mobiquity can help.

Mobiquity has helped some of the world’s largest brands transform their processes, making for a more successful organization, better customer experience, and streamlined business operations. Our clients include companies like Wawa, Kum & Go, Vomar, Nestle, Butterball, and more. View our work and then let’s chat about how together we can create a more meaningful phygital experience for your company.

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