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Phygital: The Future of Customer Experience

Phygital: The Future of Customer Experience

In this episode, we dive into the “phygital” world, where digital meets physical to revolutionize customer experience.

Our expert, Yves-Alain Schwaar, with vast experience in CRM and marketing, shares insights on how businesses are blending online and offline worlds to enhance customer engagement. We discuss key aspects of phygital, its adoption by brands, and the role of technologies like AR and VR in creating immersive experiences.

This conversation is essential for anyone interested in the future of customer interaction, offering practical advice on leveraging phygital strategies. Tune in for a concise yet comprehensive look at integrating digital innovation into physical spaces, right here on our platform.

In this episode, we’ve pierced the surface of the phygital paradigm—a fusion where digital innovation intersects with physical realms—to offer insights pivotal for anyone aiming to excel in modern customer engagement. Featuring Yves-Alain Schwaar, a visionary in CRM, marketing automation, and business analytics, we’ve unraveled the complexities of phygital, demystifying its core, its proliferation across sectors, and its transformative impact on the business environment.

Joining us is Yves-Alain Schwaar, a seasoned expert with over two decades of experience in Customer Relationship Management (CRM), marketing automation, and business analytics. As the CEO of Brand Infinity, Yves-Alain has collaborated with prestigious brands, leveraging his expertise to bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms to create seamless customer experiences.

Throughout our discussion, we address critical questions that shed light on the essence and impact of phygital. We begin by defining what phygital truly means and identifying its key components. The conversation then shifts to the adoption of this digital mindset among brands, examining the pace at which companies are integrating physical and digital experiences. We also explore the potential for mapping business opportunities within the phygital journey, highlighting how companies can capitalize on this blend to drive innovation and growth. Furthermore, the roles of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in enhancing phygital experiences are discussed, illustrating how these technologies are instrumental in bringing digital interactions into the physical world.

This episode is your portal to mastering the art of blending digital and physical worlds for unparalleled customer experiences. For a strategic guide to making your mark in the rapidly evolving sphere of customer interaction, immerse yourself in this engaging conversation, a catalyst for transformative engagement strategies, only on our platform.


  • Implementing a phygital strategy requires a solid technological infrastructure, including interoperable systems like ERP, CRM, and marketing automation platforms, to facilitate seamless data management and customer interaction across channels.
  • Monitoring strategic data points allows for the optimization of the customer experience by easing pain points and amplifying positive experiences, thereby enhancing overall satisfaction and engagement.
  • The pandemic forced brands to rapidly adopt phygital strategies as a survival tactic, highlighting the importance of digital engagement in a time when physical interactions were limited.
  • The shift towards phygital experiences is evident across all sectors, including luxury brands that traditionally prioritized physical interactions, underscoring the necessity to adapt to changing consumer expectations.
  • Phygital strategies can unlock innovative business models and opportunities, transforming traditional industries by integrating digital capabilities to enhance product and service delivery.



Q1: What does “Phygital” mean in today’s customer experience landscape?

A: Yves-Alain explains that “phygital” is a contemporary term that describes a concept which has been around for a while. It refers to the seamless integration of physical and digital experiences in our customer journey. This approach, also known as enhancing the customer experience, focuses on the seamless journey of a client, prospect, or valuable customer. The goal is to create cohesive experiences across both physical and digital touchpoints. Achieving this requires the implementation of various technologies, strategies, and thoughtful planning. The aim is to set a company apart by offering what is known as an exceptional customer experience, bridging the gap between physical and digital interactions.


Q2: What are the critical components of implementing a phygital strategy?

A: Yves-Alain emphasizes that the foundational step in developing a phygital strategy involves ensuring the capability for delivery through proper system architecture. This is crucial because the essence of phygital integration lies in data management and system interoperability. Before planning the customer journey, it’s essential to have a robust technology stack in place that can facilitate seamless communication between different systems such as ERP, CRM, and marketing automation platforms. Without this technological groundwork, achieving a cohesive phygital experience is unlikely, as legacy systems often pose significant integration challenges.

Once the technological infrastructure is established, the focus shifts to understanding the customer journey. This involves engaging with customers to identify their experiences, pinpointing moments of delight and friction. Utilizing design thinking methodologies, such as workshops, helps map out these journeys, acknowledging that customer paths are non-linear and involve back-and-forth movements. Identifying pain points and emotional moments throughout this journey is critical for prioritizing areas of improvement.

Building the phygital customer journey then involves deciding which data points to monitor and how to ease pain points while enhancing positive emotional experiences. For example, in the context of Triumph Motorcycles, the excitement of testing a bike and the joy of delivery day are identified as pivotal emotional moments that can be amplified through content creation and sharing.

Furthermore, addressing pain points, such as cumbersome payment processes or leasing validations, is essential for smoothing out the customer experience. Transitioning parts of these processes to digital platforms can significantly reduce friction.

A comprehensive phygital strategy also considers the interplay between online and in-store experiences, ensuring that customers transitioning from digital to physical touchpoints are recognized and their experience is personalized. This requires strategies for capturing customer data across channels and leveraging it to enhance the customer journey further.

In summary, key elements of a successful phygital strategy include a solid technological foundation, a deep understanding of the customer journey, strategic data point monitoring, and the seamless integration of physical and digital experiences to optimize customer engagement and satisfaction.


Q3: How has the adoption of physical strategies accelerated among brands, especially in light of recent events?

A: Yves-Alain identifies the COVID-19 pandemic as a pivotal accelerator for the adoption of phygital strategies by brands. The necessity for businesses to shift to online sales during lockdowns, as physical retail spaces were closed, compelled even the most digital-resistant brands to adopt online platforms for sales and customer engagement. This shift was not merely a choice but a survival strategy, as consumers were unable to engage in traditional physical shopping experiences.

Furthermore, Yves-Alain points out that the advent of smartphones and devices like the iPhone significantly transformed consumer behavior and expectations by enabling instant access to information, including price comparisons and product reviews, thereby increasing market transparency. This technological shift has challenged brands to differentiate themselves beyond price competition, focusing instead on offering unique customer experiences across both digital and physical touchpoints.

The emphasis on experience is particularly crucial in the luxury sector, where brands like Louis Vuitton and Hermès have long prioritized control over their distribution channels to ensure a premium customer experience. These brands were initially hesitant to transition from physical to digital channels, valuing the tangible aspects of their customer experience. However, the need to blend physical and digital experiences has become apparent across all sectors, including luxury, as a means to meet evolving consumer expectations and maintain relevance in a highly transparent and competitive market.

Yves-Alain also highlights the role of smartphones in making information ubiquitously available, further driving consumer behavior towards digital engagement. The forced digital adoption during COVID-19 and the resulting shift in consumer habits have led to challenges for physical retail stores, with an increasing number of closures due to their inability to offer a compelling and differentiated physical experience. This trend underscores the importance of integrating phygital strategies for businesses looking to thrive in the current retail landscape.


Q4: Can phygital journeys unlock new business opportunities?

A: Yes, Yves-Alain explains that digital transformation, which encompasses phygital journeys, goes beyond merely digitizing interactions; it involves a fundamental rethinking of how products and services are delivered. For instance, he cites the example of a shift in the agricultural sector where traditional methods of selling crops and fertilizers were challenged by cheaper alternatives. The response was to innovate by integrating technology, such as a network of sensors combined with external data (like weather conditions and soil quality), to provide tailored recommendations for fertilizer and crop types, thereby optimizing farm productivity.

This approach not only solved a significant pain point for farmers—who previously struggled with choosing the right fertilizers and crops—but also allowed for the collection and analysis of vast datasets to continually improve product recommendations through machine learning. Such innovations demonstrate how phygital strategies can transform customer experiences and product offerings, leading to new business opportunities.

Similarly, Yves-Alain highlights Nike’s integration of technology with their products, such as sensors in shoes that interact with the Nike Plus app. This not only redefines the product (a shoe) as part of an enhanced athletic experience but also fosters community building and personal performance tracking, showcasing how digital elements can add value to physical products.

These examples underscore the potential of phygital journeys to open up new avenues for business innovation and growth. However, Yves also points out the challenges companies face in implementing these strategies, such as balancing legacy systems with future innovations, managing financial resources, and navigating data privacy laws. Success in the phygital realm requires companies to not only adopt new technologies but also to ensure they deliver sufficient value to customers to justify the sharing of their personal data.


Q5: What impact do AR and VR have on Phygital experiences?

A: Yves-Alain notes that augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are still in their infancy in terms of their impact on phygital experiences. Despite significant investments in VR, such as Meta’s (formerly Facebook) substantial financial commitment, widespread adoption has not yet occurred due to the current user experience not offering sufficient value to prompt a major shift in consumer behavior. This pattern is reminiscent of early bubbles in technology adoption, where initial excitement does not translate into long-term success due to a lack of readiness among the general populace.

However, Yves-Alain acknowledges the potential of AR and VR to transform phygital experiences once the technology becomes more seamlessly integrated into daily life. For instance, the use of AR to enhance shopping experiences, such as the example of scanning a QR code on a Lego box to view a 3D model of the assembled product, illustrates how these technologies can bridge the gap between physical and digital realms. Yet, the challenge remains in achieving a level of user experience and device usability that encourages mass adoption.

The journey towards significant impact of AR and VR on phygital experiences hinges on the development of technologies that are intuitive and enriching enough to become an integral part of consumers’ lives. Until such advancements are made, AR and VR remain promising but underutilized tools in creating immersive phygital experiences.

Podcast Host: Amit Ahuja, Associate Director, Communications & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Guest: Yves-Alain Schwaar, CEO, Brand Infinity
Video & Audio Editing: Joyal John, Freelance Consultant, Communications, Zista Education
Podcast Manager: Russel Aldridge, Sr. Manager, Creative & Digital, Zista Education
Podcast Transcript: Tanya Kakka, Freelance Copywriter