‘Digical’ retail: what does it mean for your business?

‘Digical’ may be the clunkiest portmanteau we’ve ever read, yet retail gurus have proclaimed that a mix of the digital and the physical is the next big thing in the world of retail

14th September 2016

Digical retail is an acknowledgement that e-commerce won’t single-handedly destroy the high street.  Consumers like to visit stores. They get to see products in person, chat to staff and ask for recommendations, and buy products to take home immediately.

In fact, the biggest online retailers are increasingly opening offline stores.Amazon have one physical bookstore already open, and another on the way. Birchbox, the online beauty retailer, also have a flagship physical store.

Digital retail is a term we can use to describe how brick-and-mortar stores can use digital technologies to enhance and extend the retail experience.

Click and Collect

Click and Collect is becoming increasingly popular for many shoppers, who are dissuaded by the inconvenience of delivery – including its high costs, and unreliable, slow delivery. By ordering online and then collecting,  customers get the best of both worlds – no time consuming search for stock in store, and no delivery cost.

Retailers also benefit – it’s far less work to manage a few extra items in each delivery to the store than it is to deal with packing, labelling and a delivery company.

By offering customers a ‘digical’ option that’s often preferred to delivery, you’ll cut your costs, too.

Stock checks

Similarly, retailers are increasingly using technology to eliminate a major annoyance of shopping – when the item you’re after is out of stock. Sure, customers can still call up to check stock levels, but what if the customer could do this through your website? This would save the customer time, and your employees’ time. Argos are known for using this system on their website. You can check stock levels of your chosen item at your nearby stores, and reserve the item to pay for in-store later.


Beacons are transmitters that communicate with nearby devices such as smartphones. Retailers have begun experimenting with beacons to beam product info and offers to customers who are browsing a specific area of the shop. Retailers can also use beacons to collect data about how customers navigate the store, and how often they visit.

However, for beacons to work, smartphone users need to have the relevant retailer’s app installed on their phone. They’re also reliant on Bluetooth, which many phone users switch off because it drains battery quickly. Additionally, the notifications they trigger can quickly become an annoyance.

Beacon technology has plenty of barriers to widespread adoption, but it’s worth exploring its potential in your store.


Retailers with a heavy online presence are increasingly using stores as showrooms. For example, furniture retailer Made showcases certain product lines at its various showrooms. In store, customers can use NFC tags to find out more information on certain products. There are also tablets and computers available where customers can place orders through the retailer’s website.

Not every type of retailer will be suited to moving to a showroom approach, but it’s certainly a trend in some sectors.

Digital technologies provide retailers with a huge amount of data that provides valuable insights into consumer behaviour. ‘Digical’ retail recognises the value of physical retailers but also the extra benefits technology such as beacons and stock control software can provide.

Want to update your retail software? See what Trader can do.

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