Engaging the Customer: Blending the Physical & Digital

By David Sauter, CEO

Published: August 24, 2016

Physical experiences have many advantages: touch, taste, smell and the context of carefully crafted surroundings. Digital experiences, on the other hand, lack many of these sensory components yet offer significantly better data, analysis and most importantly direct access to millions of potential customers.

More and more we watch as traditional print connections disappear and digital touch points hastily take their place — yet, that doesn’t mean the physical experience is any less important or valued.

It’s simply changing.

The New Customer Experience: What Not to Do

Combining the physical and digital experience gives brands (and customers) the best of both worlds. But, it’s not as easy as you’d think. At the most basic level, one might assume all that’s required for a new experience is converting the analog, physical elements to digital formats. Digitize it all!

This approach is focused on the technology, focused on simply jumping at the latest new devices and filling them with any and every message you have. Here, brace yourself for failure. It takes a technology-first outlook, not an experience-first approach.

The New Customer Experience: The Key to Success

Instead of digitizing for the sake of digitizing, begin by carefully evaluating the entire customer experience across platforms. Start by making the digital experience reflective of and projecting the in-store experience in small ways — the photography, the aesthetics, the message. This first step reminds customers of going to the store or a physical location, even when they’re not there. If the digital mirrors the physical store, there’s synergy.

Then the opportunity arises to move beyond surface level elements like photos to create a physical and digital experience interdependent on one another. Augmented reality and the Pokemon Go craze is the first widely understood way of doing this. Simply change the context.

Imagine you’re walking down an aisle in the grocery store. You see, feel and smell the physical products only to be alerted as you walk of a new recipe, sale item or complementary food to the very one you’re holding in your hand. Or maybe it’s having the ability to video chat with a registered dietitian as you walk through the store and do your grocery shopping.

The conversation now isn’t about digital influence in and of itself; it’s about a digital experience that is almost irremovable from what customers experience in-store.

Digital influence increases not necessarily because you focus on digital, but because you leverage digital to highlight physical experiences. Leverage digital to bring to the forefront things that are normally underappreciated. Start in-store. Is there anything physical that is particularly engaging to tell a story about? A European trained Artisan bake or chef, an in-store tradition, dance or jingle…

Here is where you’ll find the greatest opportunities. Are you ready? Fill out our contact form and let’s chat!