Phygital experiences – what are they and why should I care?

Recently, the term “phygital” has been spoken about more often in ecommerce (and beyond). This strange-sounding word – a combination of “physical” and “digital” – is being used to describe a trend in ecommerce where businesses are bridging the gap between tangible IRL moments and online experiences. All in the pursuit of creating consistent, 360 customer experiences. 

The rise in usage of the term “phygital experiences” is an early indication of things to come. Where omnichannel, personalisation and SMS have all been ecommerce trends of the past, looking forward, phygital customer experiences are going to be all the rage. So what does it mean and how can you incorporate it into your business?

Phygital definition: what does Phygital really mean

So, let’s start with the basics. While it’s not certain who came up with the term, we do know that the word “Phygital” first started being used in the early 2010s. As more businesses tried to blend in-person experiences with digital solutions, this concept of phygital experiences emerged. Whether that’s smart stores, personalised direct mail and, more recently, personalised inserts added to the unboxing moment. 

Shoppers are keen to engage with brands both online and in-store. Research shows that while 63% of shopping begins online 49% of people still prefer shopping in physical stores. Customers love something tangible but up until now, online brands have struggled to bring the same standards of digital personalisation to the physical world. In fact, 36% of consumers say retailers need to do more to offer personalised experiences.  

Phygital experiences give brands the power to create a holistic approach and a consistent, 360 customer experience online and offline.

Phygital in ecommerce and why is it important?

Across the world, retail brands of all shapes and sizes are hopping on this phygital trend more and more. They are being drawn towards these new strategies because phygital experiences are a proven way to connect the previous popularity of in-person shopping, which was harmed by COVID-19, with the ecommerce boom. 

Customers want convenience. A staggering 97% of consumers have not completed a purchase because the shopping experience was too inconvenient. But, it doesn’t always have to be like this. Phygital experiences are a great way to combine the convenience and personalisation of online shopping with the emotional and tangible benefits of in-person retail. 

Phygital experiences are also critical for the customer journey. A phygital strategy that accounts for the real-world and digital elements of the customer journey will help to deliver high customer satisfaction and lasting customer loyalty as shoppers will get the same experience across all touchpoints.

For example, businesses that have great online stores need to make sure their in-person experiences match the same quality they can deliver digitally. Brands can’t have a beautifully branded site and a personalised experience online, but then deliver their products in dull, standardised brown packaging. The experience just doesn’t add up.

Equally, brick-and-mortar stores should provide optimised digital services for customers who want extra convenience and accessibility. If you don’t blend the physical and digital, you risk creating inconsistent experiences that put customers off. But, by connecting the two, you can boost authentic engagement and create memorable moments that build loyalty and retain customers for longer.

If you want to learn more about why phygital is important today, watch Penny Black’s CEO, Douglas Franklin, explain the newest phygital trend in ecommerce here on YouTube.

Examples of phygital experiences and how to create them

Now you know the basics of what a phygital experience is, you’re probably wondering how to create them. 

Below we’ve listed three ways brands are delivering top phygital experiences to inspire you to bring them into your ecommerce strategy.

1. Bird & Blend Tea Co. 🫖

The tea brand, Bird & Blend Tea Co. uses personalised inserts to create phygital experiences. 

They integrate Penny Black with Shopify and Klaviyo, to bring personalisation into print added to their unboxing moments. 

By pulling customer data in the platform, they can build segmented campaigns and designs so shoppers get a personalised insert every time they shop. For example, first-time customers get welcomed into the brand’s community while those who have bought a specific product, get a tailored recipe related to their product. Bird & Blend even have campaigns set up by location. This means shoppers in particular cities get inserts telling them about their local store and unique blend. Every Bird & Blend insert includes scannable and trackable QR codes that immediately brings shoppers online, motivating them to reconvert. 

2. Starbucks ☕️

Starbucks has an excellent loyalty program that is accessible via the mobile app. This phygital tactic allows Starbucks to create a high-quality digital experience and improves the in-store experience for customers using the app. 

After a customer buys their first coffee in a Starbucks store, they are funnelled from this enjoyable in-person moment to the Starbucks online experience where they’re motivated to register for Starbucks’ newsletter and rewards program. 

As they earn more rewards online, they also receive more discounts and perks every time they purchase a coffee in a physical Starbucks store. This is an example of a landmark brand blending physical and digital retail experiences to delight customers and build their loyalty.

3. Nike 👟

Since 2018, Nike has been using digital experiences and data to inform their physical store presence in the real world. They’ve created neighbourhood-centric, pop-up-style stores using member data from their NikePlus program. By conducting data analysis on their app and loyalty program users, Nike can tailor their in-store product offerings to meet the needs of their local customers. 

Nike’s app and loyalty program also allows members to redeem rewards in-store, reserve products for easy pick-up and book product testing sessions. Like Starbucks, Nike recognised the value of making their customer journey phygital, and has been working to connect physical and digital experiences as much as possible. 


Phygital experiences are crucial in a world that’s becoming further entrenched in online environments. Customers want a harmonious combination of the physical and the digital, not just one or the other. 

When integrated into your ecommerce strategy, phygital experiences improve the overall customer journey and build long-lasting loyalty. While it may take some time to incorporate phygital experiences throughout your brand, digitalising the unboxing moment is a prime place to begin. Arrange a time to talk to the Penny Black team to make phygital experiences a reality.

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Get inspired by examples of unboxing campaigns 

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Owning the unboxing moment ebook

Get your copy of the Owning the Unboxing Moment ebook

Fill out the form below to unlock your personal copy of the ebook.