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Welcome to the era of Smart Phygital!

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Retailers are experts in organic evolutions! From brick and mortar to pure player, via m- or s-commerce, they are agile and adaptable. They are becoming more and more "smart". For their part, consumers are not to be outdone and are taking advantage of new technologies to optimise their purchasing paths and reduce costs (time and price). Today, they want to buy products for the values they convey and can no longer tolerate the breaks between the on- and the off-line. The era of Smart Phygital is underway: a business that puts meaning and value at the centre, and reconciles on and offline.
 
Contraction of the words "physical" and "digital", phygital is the alliance of physical and digital shops. The phygital thus designates the mutation of shops in the digital era. Objective ? to develop a commercial performance, and to make theoffline with the online. A "marketing" concept that helps to revitalise town centre retailing in particular, but is also a response to consumer demands that force points of sale to reinvent themselves. 

 

Artificial Intelligence, the new best friend of consumers

 
Consumers and retailers have understood the importance of AI which will change the relationship to technology. Over the years, this AI will become an essential element in IoT, robotics, virtual and augmented reality. The objective? To further improve the customer experience by anticipating and analyzing consumer needs through its data and consumption habits (on and off line).
These new technologies should not serve as a "wahou" effect on a brand and mislead consumers, but rather be at their service and make customer relations more fluid.
For example, start-up Angus.ai is developing new-generation cameras that can analyze in-store flows but also detect hesitant consumer behavior to signal it to salespeople. The salespeople are then encouraged to inform the customer and close the sale. It is important to note that these images are taken in real time and therefore not stored.
Monoprix has also turned its attention to artificial intelligence and is increasing the number of startup acquisitions in the sector. After the implementation of Monop Easy In three Parisian stores, the brand is thinking about eradicating the chore of the shopping list thanks to Google Home and the development of a dedicated application, and ensuring availability with electronic labels. The objective: to make shopping easier by anticipating consumer needs.

The purchasing process: giving meaning to consumption

 
2017 marked the year of authentic and humane trade. Today, we see that consumers want more, or rather, want to get back to the basics: the search for meaning and value. The act of buying becomes a purchasing process, almost militant, for products or services. Retailers have fully understood this demand and now offer stores designed to be "like at home": they take into account the ecological footprint in optimising their supply chainthe artisans are the new stars of the marketplaces...
It is the case of the shop Footprints which is the first concept store dedicated to fine crafts. This space covers more than 600 m2 spread over four floors with art, wall decoration, accessories and furniture created by designers. The place also has a bookshop, a café and a projection room to showcase the work of artists. Birchbox surfs on the same trend with its shop that offers to have a coffee, to discover the products sold on the famous online site, but also to get a haircut. A complete relaxing break for consumers. Décathlon goes even further and has turned its salespeople into real sports coaches who give free lessons in their chosen field.
 
Boutique Empreintes, open at 5 rue de Picardie Paris

The advent of 360° retail

 
Buried a little early, the store offers itself a particularly successful facelift and finds a new youthfulness by also returning to the essential: the sensory. The equipment becomes the cornerstone of this phenomenon. Indeed, there can be no successful experience in a store without adapted furniture, the layout is dead, long live the scenography! More than a classic store, the shop becomes a place of experience, of meeting, of discovery.
Apple took a radical turn in scenography a year ago with the gradual overhaul of its physical shops. The famous Regent Street store in London was the first to get a new look. Apple has created a place that reflects its image: 7m high ceilings, reduced exhibition space to showcase new products, landscaping with vegetation. Visitors are encouraged to pick up products to test them while strolling around the store. No more anti-theft cables. Other modular spaces can be arranged to present solutions or new accessories in augmented reality.
Digital also enriches the sensory experience. An association that enables a total and useful shopping experience by taking into account needs, thanks to data, and offering real added value, as well as service. By digitizing, stores are re-humanizing purchasing: CRM allows offers to be personalized, salespeople equipped with shelves accompany the customer, the transaction becomes invisible, click & collect creates a 360° offer.
Nature & Découvertes took the plunge with the implementation of vendor tablets within its stores to improve the customer experience and increase incremental sales. This tool provides an overview of stocks, mixed shopping baskets, mobile checkout, etc.
 
Nature & Découvertes store where customers can now scan the product with the tablet, receive payment by credit card and print the ticket without going through the checkout.
 
2018 will truly seal the union between stores and digital. Omni-channel is becoming the norm. Retailers can no longer go backwards and have to take a 360° retail turn.
 
Commerce is constantly reinventing itself and is able to think "out of the box". True chameleons, retailers are listening to consumer demands and are now creating new 360° spaces to offer seamless experiences and bring meaning to commerce. Welcome to the era of Smart Phygital!
 
Sophie LubetDirector of the Retail Division at Comexposium

 
Photo: Comme des Garcons shop window at Dover Street Market: how the "click and mortar" business must reinvent itself and present "fantasy".
 

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