How can the physical and digital aspects of retail not only coexist, but also complement each other to create a better retail customer experience?
According to retail futurist Doug Stephens, the answer lies in “phygital” space, where brands and consumers interact in a blend of physical and digital worlds.
In this scenario, online commerce will feel increasingly real through technologies like virtual reality, 3-D printing and haptography, which replicates the feel of surfaces using vibration.
While online shopping becomes more tactile and sensorial, physical stores will become distributors of experiences instead of just distributors of things.
Stores will morph from mere pickup points to galleries “with plenty of room for shoppers to try, learn about and play with products.” Many hallmarks of shopping online—reviews, social validation, product specs, videos—will make their way into brick and mortar stores.