Digital Transformation

Survive the “phygital” transformation

Written by Isabel Baillien

Phygital is all about combining both the physical and the digital. It brings an ecosystem to this world, lying between the brand and the consumer across virtuality and reality. This article will go through the different steps that can help businesses to adapt to this transformation. It will focus on the relation between the real and the digital in marketing, and then explain why it is important to balance the marriage between both of them.

Thou shalt adopt a user-friendly experience and invite the client to your den 

According to Barbara Prose, expert journalist, this relation between the physical and the digital is similar to organic food. It was once omniscient but today its value needs to be redefined. In reality, the two worlds – physical and digital – cross each other but do not necessarily overlap. Most French retailers believe that the main challenge for successful marketing is to overlap these worlds.

It is a hard task for brands as consumers have a powerful wealth of choices and different channels of purchase. For example, Amazon sets the bar high by instigating fast delivery, instant customer service and large stock availability. Therefore, to restore the balance in physical shops while maintaining the added value of new tools, marketers should look for ways to infuse the digital into the physical.

For Michael Miramond, Director of Retail, Luxury and Consumer Products at IBM, the luxury and clothing sector who historically bargained on the physical marketing, will have a card to play with artificial intelligence. As a matter of fact, IBM is developing the Watson virtual assistant, which can interpret a series of human “markers” such as the voice or the facial expressions. This technology is able to “learn”, hence, to better know and “understand” consumers. It could facilitate the virtual personalisation of the products. The luxury and clothing retailers seem to hope of becoming a “concept” space, designed as a two-way path. On the one hand, customers can test before buying directly from their computers and on the other, sales teams can use the data collected online to enhance the in-store user experience, thereby privileging the utmost “phygital” experience to date.

Hereby Micheal Miramond’s speech in French


Thou shalt tailor-make the client’s experience but beware, if unprepared it might result in a flop

As “phygital” grows its roots from segmenting the clients and personalising their taste, it needs to be well managed and the firm should be well prepared to adopt a more agile structure. Charles-Alexandre Peretz, Director of Marketing and Operations at Atelier NA, a specialist in custom-made men suits launched 8 years ago, argues that although digital is in the brand’s DNA it is still important to convince the client to visit their store.

The website represents the first date with the client. It is a means for exchanging information. From the client’s point of view, it allows the understanding of the brand and their products. And from the company’s perspective, it grants information on the profile of the client. Consequently, arriving at the shop, the seller will be able to understand the client’s expectations. This means he will be being better armed when proposing a unique tailor-made experience.

But sometimes customising can turn the other way. For example, Starbucks US tested a new city-wide concept based on a beverage pre-reservation system, looking more after the digital promise of the campaign. Following the promise of retrieving their order within 45 seconds, a high number of people rushed to the store. This left the whole staff and the machines worn by the insufficiency to manage all of these orders simultaneously. Bottom line, the digital and the real experience must intertwine in order to respond to the costumer’s demand.

Thou shalt put faith and trust in mobile

To bring “phygital” into the shopping experience, a company must switch from a classical business model to a more integrated one. Strategies such as ‘data-driven’ and ‘data-centric’ should be implemented in its core value. For Olivier Guillet, the adoption of a mobile marketing strategy is an opportunity for reaching new customers. In fact, baby boomers are retiring and millennials will soon take over in the active society. This new takeover is mainly driven by the mobile. It is a device that is always on, an intimate extension of ourselves, a guide to reach the physical stores. In brief, the perfect game-changer in the ‘phygital’ marketing.

Thou shalt provide an extensive training to all co-workers

With great innovative and sales tools comes great responsibility. One that is to be shared with all of the company’s shareholders, especially with all the employees. There is no excuse when it comes to continuous team development, especially if it works as the main engine behind getting the golden advantage on the client. A change of the organisation culture is, therefore, an important element to plan and put in place.

Thou shalt honour the social media by using them as sales channels and reputation proof

Sales have dramatically changed by these intrusive technological advancements brought by the social media. This affects many aspects of selling, related to public consumption and tools offered to the companies on these platforms (payment integration, paid ads etc.). Facebook and Twitter, for example, are central to the clients’ satisfaction and their close relationship with the brands. They are the new representation of forum to voice concerns about the different products and services (Marketo, 2010).

Saying so, expectations are increasingly high and the public is constantly demanding the brands to reward their loyalty or to react by improving their offers. In return, companies can take to the social media to educate and to dig down and create an intimate relationship between the product or service and the client.

As a matter of fact, creating a social presence is not simply a task. It is rather simultaneously a blend of a sales channel, a brand management and a firm’s reputation operation. It is important to understand that the balance of power has moved from the company to the customer (Baer, 2010).

These are the rules that you shalt set before them

The theory of one size fits all is no longer possible to apply around the social media. Although it is relatively doable and cheap to put together a budget for the social media strategies, on the long term it involves the brand in putting together a strong coalition inside and outside the company. That said, sales, marketing, customer relationship management and the client must work in concert on the digital platforms and relay back to the physical store in order to grow their affinity to each other.

Finally, physical and digital are not opponents and certainly not the opposite. They are like your right hand and your left one; you need both to clap. Therefore, honouring these five commandments will give a great understanding of the opportunity offered by both worlds and certainly will be key in shaping the next generation market space.


Sources :

Marketing Magazine (2018), Physique et Digital – Les deux c’est mieux, September 2018 p.52.


Baer, Jason (2010), “Operationalizing in 2010,” Marketing in 2010: Social Media Becomes Operational (available at


Marketo (2010), The Definitive Guide to B2B Social Media: A Marketo Workbook, San Mateo, CA (available at


Andzulis, J. ‘Mick’, Panagopoulos, N. G. and Rapp, A. (2012) ‘A Review of Social Media and Implications for the Sales Process’, Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 32(3), pp. 305–316. Available at: (Accessed: 16 October 2018).

About the author


Isabel Baillien

Dynamic digital enthusiast with European background and experience in media, communication and marketing. Curious, open minded and hard worker, I search to perfect my skills and enhance my capabilities in the digital industry. Interested in travelling, hard worker, team player and with ability to work under pressure.