What Is Phygital and How to Design It?

Physical plus digital means phygital. Let’s go deeper to know that it’s a hybrid form of communication based on integration of physical and digital objects. So it's kind of like a tool to create a positive experience for a customer. In the future, phygital can help brands to integrate digital reality into everyday life. Like in Ray Bradbury’s story “The Veldt '' with its main characters who live in a house stuffed with technologies supposed to make their life easier. Well, this is a negative example not because of phygital: it has a bad ending and a poor-designed user interface :) In real life strong built and smart phygital projects can move the communication of brands and customers to the next level.


Designed by Nicholas Ergemla


What Is Phygital

Phygital is a combination of physical and digital objects to create a new type of experience for consumers. So if you are planning your phygital project, you are doing it to create a better user experience. And first, you want to make your customer journey map (CJM).

How to do it: 


  • draw a portrait of your client
  • analyze sales funnel
  • define customers’ goals
  • analyze sales channels
  • identify barriers

Read more in our blog and check the main CJM components.


Phygital Elements

Phygital design combines physical and digital worlds. Key audiences are interacting with products more and more, and phygital can be the reason why these interactions are successful.

For phygital projects, we use technologies to create a better user experience. There are some crucial elements to design phygital:


1. Speed

All the interactions are created in real-time, so physical and digital objects should work together to involve customers in unique interaction.


2. User-centered

Phygital puts a consumer first. It is one of the main phygital’s characteristics. There is no aggressive capture of the user’s attention. Phygital is intuitive and funny, so it can induce positive feelings. And it’s the third element - emotions.

3. Positive emotions

Phygital projects induce positive feelings, each interaction with a product should be simple and funny, so consumers can meet with the product without a feeling that they have to do something.


Phygital Principles

1. Single Organism

First, make all your preparations, create a customer journey map, and then form your phygital team that includes digital and physical specialists, so they can create a project that will work as a single organism. As phygital projects consist of both, physical and digital, they still have to work as one organism, acting simultaneously. 


For instance, the customers of Rebecca Minkoff’s digital stores are satisfied with the coordinated work of the digital helper and a store consultant. So a customer can order a different size of the clothes he chose from a screen in his locker room, and a consultant will bring them to him. But if they act separately then phygital doesn’t work.


2. Physical first 

The development of a phygital project can’t be successful if the physical design needs to be improved. Digital design is more flexible and can be improved faster or even after the launch of the project. So be sure the physical design is completed. Don’t forget that the quality of the physical part is crucial to maintain the digital part of the whole design.

Do you remember virtual subway Tesco stores? People could buy groceries at the subway virtual stores using their smartphones to shop, so Tesco made the store come to people. Consumers scanned the QR-codes by the phones, and products landed on the online cards. After products were delivered at home. So people didn’t need to go shopping after work. In this case, if the physical part falls behind then the brand can’t meet customers’ needs, the easy shopping without the need to go to physical stores. 


3. Balance 

There is no hierarchy and there is no “main” or more important part of the project. Physical can’t go without digital, and digital can’t go without physical. So when one part supports another one then phygital wins. 

4. Attention to the process

Pay attention to the process, not to the end of the line. Phygital is a process. When you develop a phygital project you want a consumer to enjoy the process of interaction, so you don’t have to put results - buying or subscription, etc. -  first. The joyful process of interaction is more important for a user.   



More Examples

1. Social swipe

Social Swipe to make donations easier. It is a psychological aspect for many of us. Most people are not used to making donations because the whole donating system is built with a sense of sorrow. But with Social Swipe the donating process becomes easy and joyful. Smart screens show people positive videos with each new swipe of a card and inspire them to make donations more often.


2. Hoylu

New ways of working with interactive displays from Hoylu. The technology allows teams to work together, be more efficient, and have fun. Interactive boards work with personal devices and simple pencils and also have solutions for VR devices.



3. Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go is another example of phygital, and the same is Japanese iButterfly, an app to catch butterflies from the real air. Afterward, you can change butterflies to coupons and get discounts for real products.


4. Ikea

Ikea Place allows customers to try the furniture and other Ikea products using its Augmented Reality application. The app compares the size of the room and furniture and with an accuracy of 98% offers clients the best decisions. At the Place where digital and real worlds meet, the magic begins. 



5. Mac store

MAC Store in Shanghai launched its phygital project in 2019. In this case, digital and real worlds meet in WeChat, a popular app among the Chinese. Consumers can choose products on screens, try them and buy without asking for any help from assistants. Comfy for Gen Z, right? Watch the video below, it’s a really cool embodiment of the idea.




Phygital is a hybrid form of communication based on integration of physical and digital objects to create a better user experience. Strong phygital projects can move communications of brands and customers to the next level. Never forget its elements, speed, user-centeredness and creating positive feelings, to build your phygital projects.

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