Hybrid Retail Shopping: The Future of Retail Stores

What is Hybrid retail & importance of hybrid shopping


The retail segment has witnessed a massive transformation in the past six to seven years. Although it has always been a customer-centric sector, the importance of providing a seamless customer experience has become even more compelling. That is because today, customers have a lot of choices and preferences for their shopping needs.

They want to buy products conveniently, any time, anywhere, and from any device. To provide this seamless shopping experience for customers, retailers should embrace digital technologies that allow them to provide an omnichannel experience in-store as well as online.

Hybrid retail is the new era of retail that bridges the gap between online and offline shopping and provides convenience and flexibility that customers today crave for. Before you can understand how hybrid retail can help businesses, first delve deep into what hybrid retail is and what lies ahead in the future for it.

Table of Contents

What is hybrid retail?

Hybrid retail is the concept in commerce that combines the traditional physical sales at brick and mortar stores with ecommerce. In simple terms, it is a combination of online and offline channels to complete a purchase.

Since this latest trend of hybrid retail is a mix of physical and digital experiences, it is also called “phygital” retail. Phygital retail can provide a complete experience to customers as it gives them more options to decide how and when they want to shop.

The need for hybrid shopping

Retail is a more competitive sector where attracting new customers and retaining them is the biggest challenge. That being said, customer addition and retention is directly proportional to the shopping experience offered to them. The more convenient the shopping process is for them, the more likely they will continue to shop with you and recommend you to others.

Ecommerce offers a catalog of items with different options, providing a virtual experience, easy price comparisons, integrated and instant payment support, home delivery, and more to make purchases smooth and personalized.

However, it has many challenges that cannot be met if the shopping journey is completely online. A few of the problems include time-consuming return policies, the authenticity of products, security risks, delayed last mile deliveries, interchanged products, quality issues, and more.

Therefore, it is necessary to unify the convenience of online shopping with the characteristics of physical retail. Hybrid shopping can help achieve this holistic experience, offer flexibility in the shopping journey, avoid customer friction, reduce frustration, and decrease the churn. 

Is hybrid shopping the future of retail?

With rapidly advancing technologies and evolving consumer preferences, retailers (even in Tier II and Tier III) cities are forced to offer phygital experiences for customers. Even though many retailers have adopted same-day shipping, curb-side pickup, and home delivery, these alone are not enough to meet customer expectations, so a fully integrated hybrid model is necessary.

According to a recent study by IBM, one out of four customers prefer hybrid retail stores to purchase products, and 50% of respondents said that physically interacting with a product before buying them influences their decision to buy.

Phygital retail allows businesses to meet these expectations by providing seamless user experiences, improved customer satisfaction, and, additionally, an opportunity to collect data on their preferences and behaviors. The latter helps retailers analyze and serve the customers well.

In summary, hybrid shopping that combines the best of physical and digital worlds is the future of retail. Businesses who transform from brick-and-mortar foot traffic to hybrid “brick-and-click” digital sales have a competitive edge to meet the evolving expectations of customers and maintain their business.

How to incorporate a hybrid retail shopping strategy

Before any business implements a hybrid retail environment, they need to decide which elements are suitable for their business and customers, and what strategies can improve customer satisfaction. They also need to establish a good ROI, and maximize their efficiency. Consider the following aspects when implementing a hybrid retail strategy for your retail business.

Innovate and invest in smart digital technology

Technology is an integral part of any retail business to operate efficiently. Throughout the shopping journey, everything should be tightly integrated for customers to make seamless purchases.

This can be achieved with omnichannel ordering, delivery cycle, comprehensive CRM, a real-time, cross-channel inventory management system, multiple payment platforms, automated communications, cloud and AI based technologies, and more. Adopt the latest technology to meet market demand and serve the customers as expected.

Offer an omnichannel, phygital customer experience

Omnichannel retail is beneficial for both customers and retailers as there is greater convenience, personalization, and optimization. To offer an omnichannel experience, the integration of systems, processes, and data across all channels is necessary, so you can easily switch between channels, access data, analyze it, and take action immediately.

This immersive shopping model can provide freedom to shoppers so they can order products online and pick them up in-store, or they can come to the store to check out the merchandise, interact and consult with staff, and place their order at the kiosk or choose a fully online procurement journey to order and deliver their goods anywhere. Such a flexible purchase journey will make customers loyal to the brand and influence them to refer other shoppers to your store.

Concentrate on the post–shopping experience

Customer satisfaction does not solely depend on the experience through the purchase journey, but continues well after checkout. The fact is the post-shopping experience is as important as the overall shopping experience. Failing to concentrate on that can lead to more escalations, increased returns, more churn, and finally losing customers and referrals. A frictionless post-shopping experience will boost your brand’s reputation, provides customer satisfaction, and increases referrals through word of mouth.

Make it a practice to provide real-time communication to the customers regarding their order confirmation and order status. Encourage them to stay connected with up-to-date information about your business, including product updates. Within the receipt or order confirmation, clearly state the terms and conditions, logistics, a transparent return policy, and provide proper support in case of returns. Finally, entice them to return by offering loyalty points and vouchers.

Gather feedback from customers, implement, and improve

Making the shift from solely traditional physical stores to a hybrid retail mode is a difficult and risky undertaking that takes a lot of courage and patience to implement. Remember, such a transition is what loyal customers appreciate when it is done.

Few customers take the time to share suggestions for improvement. Welcome the feedback from such customers, make a market research study, and analyze competitors and what they have done. Examine and experiment with the suggestions to conclude what works the best and improve further upon them.

Benefits of hybrid shopping for customers

The tastes of all individuals are not the same. Neither completely online nor fully offline is the optimal choice for customers when they’re shopping. In that case, offering a hybrid retail environment is the best model. Here are a few benefits of the hybrid model to understand why it is preferred over others.

Explore and learn about the products in-depth

In traditional retail, customers have to rely on staff as well as physically seeing the product to find out about it. In online shopping, they get details about the products through descriptions and images, but they cannot always rely on those as sometimes they are not from authentic sources. Integrating both the online and offline shopping environments makes this easier for customers.

They can research the product, compare the prices, observe the ratings and reviews, and shortlist the product based on that online experience. They can then visit the store to consult the staff, gather their opinion, get some physical evidence, and finally confirm the purchase. This instills confidence and trust before they complete their purchase.

Flexible and personalized shopping experience

Customers have the liberty to shop from the channel of their choice in this phygital retail model. They can do research and order products online, then pick them up from the nearby store; research online and complete the purchase and pickup at the store; adopt a fully digital medium by ordering online and opting for home delivery; or complete the purchase at the store and get it delivered to your home. They can also choose a convenient payment method and complete the transaction at any point through any channel.

With a wide range of possibilities, like these, in every touchpoint of the purchase journey, and seamless integration between channels, customers will enjoy shopping with you frequently.

Quicker accessibility to the product

Customers might have shopped online and completed their checkout but are not ready to wait for the logistics partner to deliver it physically. In such cases, they can make the purchase online and once it is ready they can pick it up from the store themselves to get earlier access to the product. Here, the convenience of faster checkouts without waiting in queues, and quick pickups makes the whole shopping journey satisfying.

Easy and hassle-free returns and exchanges

Wastage of products can happen due to damage or expiry of products. If an online request is raised for return or exchange, it will take a day or two for pickup, another few days to reach the seller, and a few more days to initiate reimbursement or an exchange request.

Instead of initiating returns through the post, customers can go to the nearest store with the product purchased online, look for alternative choices, interact with staff to get more details, and complete the required action on the same day, saving time and stress.

Provides trust to shop from the brand

Shoppers can be cautious and think for a long period of time before they make a purchase. They evaluate the quality of the product, check for the correct size or measurement, ensure the color or material will meet their expectations, and expect timely service from the seller, among other things.

If there is a physical store near them, and if they have visited the store before, it proves authenticity and instills trust, making them feel more comfortable completing the purchase.

Examples of hybrid shopping

Amazon Go stores

Artificial intelligence and computer vision-based shopping experience enables customers to complete a purchase without a cashier in the stores. Shoppers can visit the store devoid of staff, take the products from the racks, and add them to their trolleys. Computer vision-based technology will track the purchases and charge the customers for the products in their basket. This latest digital shopping strategy offers a unique experience to the customers and encourages them to take on the complete journey by themselves.

In-store digital kiosks

Having self-checkout kiosks in addition to the staffed counters can save time and reduce the need for human guidance. Customers visiting the store can digitally interact with the kiosks, know the products and their prices, check the current availability, and check out themselves. They can choose to take the products with them or opt for delivery to a desired location. Blending the in-store and online digital technologies together, this phygital retail model offers a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Virtual trial and fitting rooms

The rise of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies can now allow customers to virtually try on clothing, accessories, and cosmetics, and see how decorative items fit in their space. They can use mobile applications or in-store devices to visualize how products look and fit, without even touching them physically, narrowing the gap between online and in-store experiences.

Buy online, pickup in store (BOPIS)

Customers who prefer convenience, but want the product in hand immediately have the freedom to place the order from an online ordering app or buyer platform, and choose to pick them up from a nearby store, enabling them to have greater flexibility and avoid delivery wait times for purchases.

Pop-up stores and temporary showrooms

Retail brands establishing stores in limited locations, while maintaining a strong online presence, can set up temporary pop-up stores or showrooms. This provides loyal online shoppers an opportunity to try the products physically, get personalized consultations, and complete purchases. These temporary physical stores compliment the digital presence and enable the digitailers to build brand awareness and trust.

How can Gofrugal help hybrid retail shops? 

Gofrugal has a wide range of omnichannel solutions, mobile applications, add-on solutions, and flexible integrations to help retail shops switch to a hybrid model without much friction and hassle.

All the touchpoints in the retail shop can be optimized and made efficient with Gofrugal’s dedicated solutions. Here are a few features that can add value to your retail business.

Futuristic omnichannel ERP solution: Enjoy efficient operations from purchase to sales, proper inventory management, real-time analytical reports, built-in accounting, GST filling, e-invoicing, and e-way bill.

Self and express checkout counters: Experience 2x faster billing with an omnichannel billing application that lets you bill from any device including mobiles, tablets, kiosks, or laptops. Provide liberty for customers to interact with the catalog digitally, know the price, and checkout without waiting in long queues.

Your own online ordering app: Take your business online with the lowest investment through an in-house ordering app listed in your business name. Customers can place orders from their mobile on-the-go, which you can receive and process instantly.

Ecommerce integrations: Consumers can place orders from various third-party applications and retailers can streamline orders with centralized ecommerce integrations such as Shopify, Unicommerce, WooCommerce, UrbanPiper, Rodeo, and many more.

Delivery management app: Digitailers with resources to do home deliveries can use the efficient delivery management app for flexible delivery boy assignment, OTP authentication, proof of delivery, and efficient delivery tracking.

Loyalty and CRM integrations: Encourage customers to shop more by offering them loyalty points to redeem by integrating with loyalty providers of your choice from Gofrugal’s 10+ providers. Offer multiple payment options by integrating with any gateway and devices of your choice from Gofrugal’s list.

AI- and ML-based purchases: Automate retail reordering with a autonomous self-aware reordering solution that makes accurate purchases, avoids stock-outs proactively, and helps with efficient bulk and repack planning, while offering a host of other features.

Instant and credible communications: Send automatic alerts, instant communication, and timely reminders to customers through SMS or WhatsApp. Run marketing campaigns and trigger digital copies of bills to be sent to customers with the official WhatsApp integration through Meta.

Complete control over inventory: Manage stock efficiently by doing a perpetual stock audit with the stock taking app. Receive materials inwards anytime with the GRN and Parcel entry feature; experience easy, error-free and hassle-free order picking with the stock picking app; and refill the stock in racks correctly with stock refilling app.

Mobile business assistant: Track the status of daily sales, purchases, inventory, margins, expiry, returns, selling and non-selling items, and more, on the go. Submit approvals, and make important decisions, like selling price changes, from anywhere with mobile business assistant.


The lines between traditional in-store retail and remote online shopping are blurring slowly and many digitailers have started innovating and implementing omnichannel experiences to differentiate themselves and withstand the fierce competition. Going hybrid doesn’t mean that one of them will take over the other, but they will both complement each other and continue to coexist, maybe with even more advancements in the future. Businesses who are early adopters of the hybrid model can only meet the evolving customer expectations and prosper in business. Do you want to get in on the ground floor and accelerate your business with a hybrid retail model? Get connected with Gofrugal experts for a personalized consultation.

Transform and elevate your business with hybrid retail. The future of retail shopping experience.