The ‘Phygital’ World: Frictionless, Fun and Profitable


Consumers increasingly expect an in-store experience with high-tech bells and whistles.

Madonna once sang that “we are living in a material world.” If she updated her 1980s hit “Material Girl” for today, she might change that refrain to “we are living in a ‘phygital’ world,” a blended realm of the physical and the digital.

Phygital Mattress Shopping. Consumers increasingly expect an in-store experience with high-tech bells and whistles.

This is true when it comes to shopping: In the phygital retail world, technology improves the in-store experience. A report released earlier this year by London-based accounting firm PwC, talks about the growing importance of the phygital world on consumers’ desire for frictionless shopping. 

Consumers continue to do a lot of shopping in-store, especially for big-ticket items and products they want to try before they buy. Mattresses, of course, fit in both those categories. But when consumers visit a brick-and-mortar store, they “are saying that they want the physical shopping experience to be enhanced, facilitated or mediated by digital technologies,” according to PwC.

“More tellingly,” the report continues, “consumers who said they intend to spend more time in brick-and-mortar environments in the coming six months signaled that they expect more technological bells and whistles.”

Some of what consumers want, like self-service checkouts, may not be appropriate in a furniture or specialty sleep store. But other technologies could enhance the mattress-buying experience, including retailer websites and mobile apps that allow shoppers to research and browse for specific products. Here are a few other shopper-friendly technologies you may want to consider introducing in your retail operation in the coming year:

Mattress matching systems

That scan shoppers’ bodies and gather other information to help narrow the mattress selection and point consumers to the right mattress for them.

3D configurations that show

How a larger-size mattress or new piece of bedroom furniture would fit and look in a consumer’s bedroom.

In-store entertainment

Perhaps engaging videos that explain the cycles of sleep or that explore the meaning of dreams.

Virtual reality headsets

That take shoppers deep inside the layers of a mattress or immerses them in a bedding factory to see how a mattress is made.

Booking systems

That allow customers to schedule a private appointment to shop with a retail sales associate.

Scan-and-go devices

That let shoppers pay for items without having to go through a checkout lane or stop at a sales desk. Granted, this idea makes the most sense for large mattress and furniture stores selling a variety of grab-and-go items, but it does speak to consumers’ desire to get in and out of stores quickly. They’ll appreciate anything you do to speed up the purchasing process.

By continuing to incorporate tech into the mattress-buying process, you’ll make it more fun and frictionless — two key hallmarks of the phygital world.