From Physical to Digital and Back Again: Three Ways for Brands (B2C or B2B) to Stand Out

There is a clear trend of B2C brands that once existed only online opening physical locations: Everlane, Glossier, Bonobos, and of course Amazon are just a few examples.

Being online-first allowed those brands to tap into the convenience that digital offers, gradually building a strong audience of loyal customers. Now, the same brands are revitalizing brick-and-mortar retail.

It seems we have gone from physical experiences to digital, and now the pendulum is swinging back to physical. Why is this happening?

Digital transformation is all about moving from the physical world into the digital world. It’s about re-establishing processes and modernizing legacy systems to enable engagement with customers in an entirely new way. However, last time I checked, we still live in the physical world, where experiences can connect with all five senses. Yet, many brands have gone all in on digital, overcrowding customers and relying on two senses: sight and sound. Some 44% of companies have already moved to a digital-first approach for the customer experience, according to IDG.

Thinking of a customer experience in digital-only terms is limiting. I would argue that for brands to stand out and truly capture (and keep) customer attention, they must incorporate physical elements and appeal to all of a customer’s senses.

Like those digital-native brands that are opening storefronts, it’s about striking a balance.

An Unexpected Mailer Breaks Through the Noise

I recently experienced another example of this digital-to-physical trend some months back from a B2B brand. I received a mailer from a brand that I had previously engaged with on digital channels. I opened it, expecting some branded tchotchke, and perhaps a Starbucks gift card.

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