The nature of evolution is disrupting the current order of things and modifying it for the better. The virtual space is not an exception to this fact. Ever since the first hardware came into existence, society has rocketed across the landscape of data communication at speeds unfathomable merely 200 years back.
And with increased communication, brands have populated the digital space and created a market place available on every device. But this had led a lot of thought leaders to believe that digitisation is the future and offline retail is dead. This misinterpretation discounted the charm of touching and feeling a product before purchase, the personalised experience retail provides and the joy of the activity.
According to an AT Kearney study, 95% of the sales still happen on offline retail with two-thirds of the online purchasers, using in-store services before or after the sale.
The Phygital world!
The truth is consumers do not only rely on the online to reach a purchase decision. They like to compare products, get reviews, and feel the product before they come to a decision. And the digital or offline alone can't fulfill those demands. People are now looking for an integrated holistic experience of the online convenience and the tangible aspect of offline. The ‘Phygital’ is the future. It is the very reason that brands like Amazon are investing heavily on offline retail stores.
Retailers are waking up to this fusion and integrating more and more of technology to provide a seamless experience to their consumers. To keep their business relevant retailers now provide free Wi-Fi, location-based coupons and virtual guide. A few brands have even implemented IoT and location-based beacon systems that recognises and sends personalized messages to customers in their shopping zones. Backed up by a database, offers and coupons on products the person is interested in are projected on their devices to enhance the reach of the store.
The whole idea empowers and expands the reach of the retail.
The global market of self-checkout kiosks is estimated to reach a value of over US $18 billion by 2023 as per a CAGR report. And growing economies like India and China will be at its forefront.
So as the 21st-century buffers to 19%, let’s have a look at the innovations of this Phygital world, till now.
A-commerce is basically e-commerce with an AR assist. It allows a consumer to see the virtual product in the real world environment and better asses it. It allows familiarity with the virtual product whereas before it was not possible with flat images. The most successful example of it is Lenskart who allows users to wear virtual glasses using the phone’s camera. However, Lenskart also has an offline store wherein they provide assistance in making choices and other in-store services.
Perhaps the most rooted for innovation, magic mirror is literally and metaphorical a physical product. It is a mirror with a camera that functions as a normal mirror and overlays your reflection with additional information. It has a revolutionary application in healthcare, personal care, fashion retail, and cosmetics.
Rolled out in Kochi, Watasale is India’s first entirely autonomous retail supermarket. You simply download their app, pick up what you want from their real store and walk out. No waiting no queuing. The sum owed by you is deducted through online banking!
Reaching out to customers is also about timing and a lot about their convenience. Virtual stores capitalize on those time when consumers have time and mental space to review products. Like when they are having a cup of coffee.
Pulp collaborated with Yebhi.com and created a virtual market place at famous coffee houses. The customer simply taps to register through phone and gets to browsing while enjoying their cup of coffee.
These are just a few of the many innovations we are witnessing. The future of retail has just begun and coupled with the virtual space, they are ready to make a mark in the Real!