258 week ago — 5 min read
Summary: ‘Phygital’ is a business term that describes the blending of digital and physical experiences. The retail industry, in particular, is acknowledging the advantages of 'phygital' to deliver an enhanced customer experience (CX). GlobalLinker member Sripal Bachawat shares his insights and expertise on the phygital retail experience with a focus on the pharmacy sector.
Online retailing is almost becoming archaic in some sectors. In its place, a new hybrid business paradigm is emerging that combines the strengths of physical and digital retail: the phygital model.
This new model is especially gaining traction in the pharmacy sector. Brick and mortar pharmacies have been trying to reach into the digital marketplace, and e-pharmacies have been trying just as hard to establish a physical presence. The struggle over contested ground has given rise to a business model that other sectors can learn much from.
E-pharmacies make it easy to upload prescriptions, identify the names and add to the cart, which may lead consumers to trust that their specific medication will be available just as easily. This is not necessarily always the case. Online pharmacies don’t always hold stocks of all the requested items. They face logistical challenges of delivering medicines quickly, whether from a dark store (a term referred to fulfilment warehouses of online retailers) or from a central warehouse.
The fact is that it is easy to get a thousand prescriptions, but it’s awfully hard to fulfill them all.
While e-pharmacies must bear the cost of dark stores to fulfil orders quickly, brick and mortar stores can serve the same purpose while generating revenue during business hours. This is the advantage on which traditional pharmacies seek to build online portals. A leading chain of chemists in Mumbai has established online front-ends to their traditional retail businesses that allow online prescriptions to be quickly fulfilled by medicine stored nearest to the delivery location.
Whether a business has started online or on the ground, its move to a phygital model relies heavily on the help of a technology partner who can reconcile each different sales and fulfillment channel to fit a wide range of scenarios. This led us to create a centralised retail-management system tailored for retail pharmacies chains and scalable for single-store owners with plans to expand in the future. Pharmacies looking simply to add an online front end to their existing brick and mortar operations can also integrate the solution.
Under such systems, prescriptions are uploaded to a pharmacy’s website and the appropriate medicines added to the customer’s account. Customers simply confirm the order. And that’s when the digital magic happens. The system first scans all stores in the network and identifies the nearest store capable of fulfilling an entire given order. Once the fulfilling store has been identified, invoices are generated, delivery arranged, and online tracking established. If no single store can fulfill a given order, the system looks to individual stores for each item, and arranges delivery to a single store before the entire order is delivered to the customer.
Similarly, an integrated retail management system can keep track of inventory levels at each outlet, and contact suppliers at just the right time to confirm the stock of medicine at any given location at any given time.
The phygital approach takes full advantage of both models' strengths, the immediacy and responsiveness of traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies and the efficient automation characteristic of e-pharmacies.
The future is increasingly phygital.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views, official policy or position of GlobalLinker.
Posted bySripal Bachawat
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