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What challenges do retail professionals face in the ‘phygital’ era?

By Alicia Reyes Sarmiento


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Illustrative image created using an AI-tool. Credits: Alicia Reyes Sarmiento // FashionUnited

The lines between physical and digital stores are increasingly blurring, ushering in the era of the "phygital" business model in retail. The premise is clear: renew or die. However, one question resonates: is it possible to achieve this fusion of physical and digital environments without compromising the customer experience?

According to a study by Catenon, a multinational company specialising in data-driven recruitment services, omni-channel and frictionless shopping are critical for retail today.

This makes it crucial to have hybrid teams that combine knowledge of customer service with a mastery of the technologies needed to improve the customer experience.

FashionUnited tries to define the profile of this professional, who must offer consumers the immediacy, immersion and capacity for interaction characteristic of the digital world, without sacrificing humanity.

In search of retail visionaries

Laura Urue, as spokesperson for Catenon, emphasised in a statement that there is no standard profile for these professionals, nor a specific training. What they are looking for are individuals with a transversal vision of the business and a strong customer orientation.

Thus, the recipe for success lies in the creation of hybrid teams capable of integrating customer knowledge with the necessary technologies to offer a premium experience.

Aware of current consumer demands, many companies have already established departments specialised in ensuring that the customer experience is optimal regardless of the purchase channel.

The immediacy of digital without sacrificing humanity

In the omni-channel context - spanning from e-commerce to the physical shop - where consumers interact across multiple devices and platforms, retail faces the challenge of delivering a consistent and frictionless experience.

Therefore, the new professional profile must offer consumers the immediacy, immersion and capacity for interaction characteristic of e-commerce, without sacrificing humanity.

This is why automation is presented as a recommendable solution only for less valuable processes, with the aim of improving operational efficiency and freeing up staff to concentrate on customer service.

While technology optimises efficiency and streamlines processes, personalised service and empathy are fundamental aspects that should not be lost, especially when it comes to meeting the varied needs and expectations of consumers in an omni-channel environment.

In other words, consumers come to shops looking for that extra offline that the online environment lacks.

Transformative technologies, better behind the scenes

Behind the scenes of the phygital model, accurate inventory management becomes essential. RFID radio frequency tags simplify processes, and artificial intelligence emerges as an ally to develop predictive models that improve collection planning and manage omni-channel demand.

These initiatives require mobile devices and tablets for shop teams, equipped to manage changes, check availability and provide immediate, personalised information.

The future of retail is forged in the convergence of physical and digital, and in this context, the search for hybrid professionals emerges as key to unlocking its full potential.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.ES. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.