What is phygital?

Phygital (physical plus digital) is a marketing term that describes blending digital experiences with physical ones. As customer interaction channels proliferate, companies aim to seamlessly integrate them. A phygital experience lets a customer make a phone call, then communicate on a social media platform, then send an email, without the company losing the thread of communication or a sense of the customers' issues associated with it.

Sometimes referred to as an omnichannel customer experience, a phygital experience bridges gaps between channels and reduces customer friction, frustration and churn. These experiences can add value by augmenting digital experiences with human connections and physical enhancements.

Technologies that support phygital experiences

By combining environments through data, phygital experiences can improve the value of different channels. The following technologies help organizations integrate interaction channels and create phygital experiences.

  • Marketing automation software. Organizations may use marketing automation software to send personalized messages to customers across channels, including email, text messages and social media.
  • Geolocation. Phygital blending often benefits from geolocation information that indicates where a customer is located in a store or in its environs.
  • Beacons. Beacon technology can identify customers in a particular store aisle, and match their mobile identities with their online identities to see if they have items abandoned in their online shopping carts. The organization could then send messages about where to find similar items in the store.
  • Wearable devices. Wearable devices can pinpoint a customer's location and send and receive data with recommendations, alerts and other personalized information.
  • Social media. Some airlines use social media to create phygital experiences, where they become aware that a passenger is traveling on the airline, then greet that individual in the airport to offer a gift or loyalty points.
  • Internet of things. With IoT, sensors may be able to proactively detect that a car or refrigerator needs service and send a technician without requiring a customer to schedule an appointment.
  • Smart mirrors. Retail stores are also piloting devices such as "smart mirrors," which may make outfit suggestions and provide information on additional colors and sizes once a tag is scanned.

Phygital developments can bridge the gap between the digital and the physical and enable organizations to offer proactive and creative services. These right-place, right-time interactions can predictively engage customers, serve needs or offer upselling opportunities. At the same time, some of these experiences can easily verge into the intrusive realm if customers aren't comfortable with the way or kind of data a company uses to create these experiences.

Editor's note: This article was written by Lauren Horwitz in 2016. TechTarget editors revised it to improve the reader experience.

This was last updated in June 2023

Continue Reading About phygital

Dig Deeper on Customer experience management

Content Management
Unified Communications
Data Management
Enterprise AI