Elysha Young
Elysha manages the Asia Pacific Mintel Trends team made up of expert analysts and trend spotters. She currently oversees content for Mintel Trends as well as client servicing for the region.

As consumers continue to be conflicted over stepping out, retailers are now curating ‘phygital’ (physical and digital) experiences by taking the in-store experience online; resulting in greater reach and accessibility for consumers, and creating further touchpoints to help consumers navigate their ‘next normal’ shopping experience.

Inorbit Mall in India is experimenting with video-call shopping tours, telephonic purchases and curb-side pick-ups to allow for better access to shopping for consumers hesitant to visit public areas. With its #FirstTimeInALongTime campaign, Inorbit Mall has taken its 100+ stores to shoppers’ doorsteps.

With this campaign, services such as personal shopping assistants, video-call tours of the store, online window-shopping experience, WhatsApp purchases and home delivery are being offered. Curb-side pick-ups and asset-light services like mobile vans and ‘stores-on-wheels’ are also being deployed. This ‘phygital’ model has been implemented by major brands in food, footwear and apparel, including Lifestyle, Domino’s, Bata, Levi Strauss, Reliance Trends and Wildcraft.

Exploring the ‘phygital’ experience

Mintel research highlights that almost half of the Indian consumers strongly agree that they will continue shopping online even when it’s safe to go back into stores. Hence, offering efficient omnichannel strategies such as this will generate meaningful content that inspires, engages and entices consumers.

Mintel Trend, ‘Click and Connect’ highlights how technological devices and digital platforms are being used to connect consumers and enhance their relationships. Although most consumers would agree that nothing compares to the touch-and-feel experience of shopping, consumers are now warming up to the idea of new tech-savvy alternatives are the next best option that combines personal safety with consumer satisfaction.

Currently, most e-commerce giants offer a one-size-fits-all approach to the online shopping experience. With this new initiative, Inorbit Mall has established a point of differentiation by creating scope for personalised interaction, building a rapport and enhancing the relationship with prospective customers.

What we think

Mintel Trend driver ‘Experiences’ shows how technology has made experiences available to the masses, while simultaneously creating a counter demand for offline interaction with brands. In both cases, consumers want to feel heard while staying – at least for the moment – well within their comfort zone. Within this environment, brands will need to continue to innovate ways to create a dialogue with customers and help ease them into the next normal while developing experiences they will grow to appreciate.

While meeting the needs of consumers through various convenience-driven services, brands must focus on building evolved ‘alternative’ channels alongside hyper-local channels. This can help them remain relevant despite changes in consumer lifestyles and preferences. Retail brands that offer conveniences like pre-booking a visit to the store, digital selection and payment of parking space, contactless dining, app-based search for stores and their catalogues and hassle-free bag check-in without waiting in queues will add to the convenience, ease and delight of shopping, which should help to entice reticent shoppers back in-store.