A couple of decades ago, Metaverse was just a term used in a fancy science fiction novel of the 90s. It described a parallel universe that existed digitally as an extension to our physical universe – where people used digital avatars to represent themselves. The current idea behind the Metaverse is similar, and there is only one difference – it’s not fictional anymore!
Your workplace, school, or playground has already seen a drastic shift toward these technologies. The current avenue for this innovation is shopping and retail. The pandemic limited our capacity to visit the store, which led us to rely more heavily on online stores.
The store experience will not be the same with or without a pandemic. Many consumers are now used to their personalized experience with online shopping. The physical stores need to improve and provide a better experience to stay relevant.
How can the retail stores sustain their relevancy in the Metaverse?
Phygital is the Answer
The answer is phygital – a mixture of digital and physical experience. It is a term widely used in the tech industry for a shopping experience that is both digital and physical at the same time. Phygital retail is the most relevant shift a brand should take right now. Retailers can build a stronger relationship with the customer, collect important data with no privacy breach, and conquer new markets at much lower costs. Phygital stores will also help to optimize the overall value chain.
We will be talking about the impact of the phygital model on the overall customer behavior towards retail businesses. Read on to learn how the phygital shopping experiences will shape the future of the phygital Metaverse.
A More Personalized Shopping Experience
According to a study by Epsilon, 80% of all retail customers want a personalized experience with the retailers. Personalization has been a driving force for the growth of most, if not all, online retailers. When the competition in the retail industry was getting fierce, differentiation based on pricing strategies was not working. Retailers needed a way to differentiate themselves from the competition. Personalization made that happen.
Amazon has been a pioneer of personalization in the retail industry. Offering a list of recommended products that a customer might buy based on their history has been the most prominent personalization strategy by them. They continue introducing more innovative solutions that provide a personalized experience to the customer.
What Amazon did to brick-and-mortar stores in terms of personalization, phygital stores will do with the existing stores. By using XR technology in the retail store, retailers can provide a level of personalization that was previously impossible.
Retail stores can adopt and provide virtual stores and offer a simulation environment of a physical store to the customer without actually visiting it. Not only that, retailers can personalize the customer experience by adopting AR technology in the physical store. Retailers can highlight a best-selling product, create a pop-up for the holidays, add livestreams and games to engage customers both online and in the physical location.
A More Sustainable Retail Store
As more stores will start providing a phygital retail experience, the overall inventory and other wastes will go down exponentially. Physical retail stores have a big problem with inventory management and waste management. By adopting the virtual setups and becoming a phygital store instead of just a physical store – retailers can decrease the overall waste to a greater extent.
In European markets, consumers are well-aware of climate change and sustainability issues. It also impacts their buying behavior in that region. Almost 25% of customers from this region will switch the store if they learn that it is not implementing sustainable practices. Phygital stores will solve this problem.
Having a virtual store to accompany your physical locations can also help highlight environmental initiatives and boost customer loyalty through educational content and engagement. Latest virtual store launches pride on having sections dedicated to saving the environment and demonstrating sustainable practices. YSL Beauty Thailand is a perfect example of a virtual store being both engaging and educative.
An Improved In-Store Experience
As stated earlier, phygital is a mixture of digital and physical experiences. Phygital stores will not be limited to improving the online experience of digital retail customers, but they will also enhance the physical in-store experience.
XR technology refers to the amalgamation of AR (Augmented Reality) and VR (Virtual Reality). In-store experiences will improve by adopting solutions that fall into the AR spectrum of technology – the latest Giorgio Armani Skincare launch is a perfect example of using virtual reality to introduce product story through an engaging activity.
Phygital stores will not only exist digitally in the VR world, but retailers will bring these innovative experiences to the stores too. Many stores are already adopting these technologies in the physical store in the shape of AR visualizations, NFT exhibitions, and many more innovative ideas.
When created on the right platform using 3D rendered ultra photorealistic designs, a virtual store can look unbelievably life-like becoming the final step of the complete consumer journey. Truly scalable virtual stores can cover a myriad of markets with just a s imple adjustment of the language or a more complex product display variation, and more. Finally, a virtual store can become a great playground for creativity where brands can create absolutely astonishing visuals and even entire worlds within the virtual store to best highlight desired products, initiatives and tell a story, thus driving customer engagement and loyalty. Lancome is a brand known to create both true-to-life flagship stores and fantastical worlds for brands like Genifique and Renergie.
To sum it up, The Phygital Metaverse is already disrupting many markets. But it is still in its initial stages – the perfect time to find the right platform to create the best virtual experiences keeping in mind not only the visual and engaging aspects of the future virtual creations, but their scalability, conversion rates, and data. The current boom in the adoption of VR and AR technologies seems like the dawn of the Metaverse, and brands need to be ready.