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Call UK +44 (0)1202 892863

Call USA and Canada +1 877 450 2172


The Future of Shopping Series : The Futuristic Shopping Experience

The future of shopping is a hot topic for retailers, covering a broad spectrum of ideas and trends. In order to do the subject justice we are writing and publishing the Future of Shopping blog series in the lead up to our attendance at the Retail Business Technology Expo (RBTE) in May.

Each blog focuses on a different aspect of retail and will consider the implications on both retailers and consumers. This week we look at how the once futuristic view of shopping, is becoming a reality…

The Future of Shopping

The Futuristic Shopping Experience

It used to be that the shopping experience seen in films such as The Minority Report, was something that only existed in sci-fi movies. We see shoppers passing advertising and billboards which adjust their marketing message to each unique person by scanning their eyes.

“Hello Mr Yakamoto! Welcome back to The Gap, how did those assorted tank tops workout for you?” Source, Minority Report.

The technology for facial recognition scanning and retina scanning is increasingly becoming used within many industries outside of high level security. Unlocking your smartphone with an eye scan or fingerprint has become commonplace in such a short amount of time.

The software infrastructure also already exists for online shopping. Data gathered from tracking online consumer behaviour is automatically processed and fed back into automated marketing strategies such as remarketing ads.  

Visitors to websites who don’t complete the buying cycle can be followed by remarketing ads, showcasing the exact product they were viewing, with possible discounts to entice them to return and purchase.

Combining the seemingly futuristic eye scanning or facial recognition technology with online style marketing strategies no longer looks so far fetched.

This is just one of many new technologies that are affecting the future of shopping, below we look at what else is coming our way in the not too distant future…

Tablet Compact Kiosk for Retail POS Self-Service Kiosks

Push Notifications and Beacons

A beacon can push notifications to phones or tablets associated with the app. A beacon can be placed in a specific location and when a visitor reaches that location, the app will deliver content to the user such as vouchers, discounts or suggestions. This allows for content to be delivered on a micro-local scale, either by recording visitors on a general scale for a true customer journey, or sending promotional offers to users stood in front of a specific product.

Whilst this relies on users already having the stores own app, with a rise in savvy buyers, with the right offers and discounts customers will happily subscribe to newsletters and apps to ensure they don’t miss out on the best offers.

Amazon Bricks and Mortar

Amazon is the elephant in the room when it comes to retail. Willing to lose money on products, such as Kindle to ensure they can capture the eBook market, it was a shock to most when they opened a brick and mortar book store. What’s even stranger is the analytical concept of the store. The stock is less chosen by employees with handwritten notes recommending their favourites, but to do with algorithms and analytics.

“Highly rated- 4.8 stars and above”

“Books which readers finished in three days”

Nevertheless, Amazon are putting their valuable data to into practice, and whilst it may seem strange now, no one thought Amazon was going places in 1994. By not just focusing on the digital retail space, but also on the instore interactions, Amazon are looking at aligning customer online accounts with a bricks and mortar experience.Expo Counter Mounted Tablet Enclosure for New Look

Data Driven Service

Technology can eliminate checkout lines with POS kiosks or mobile apps, capture transaction receipts, express returns and even give call centers full access to purchase and complaint history to tailor offers. Digital technology, like that available in the form of tablets, can provide sales teams the kind of information normally required by close friends or partners.

“Does the customer prefer to be spoken to or left alone

What was their last experience like- any feedback

What body/shoe/home type do they have?”

This data works in the same way that cookies or remarketing ads work. Retailers can ensure they only show you what you are interested in, increasing the likelihood of a successful sale.

No Need to Check-Out

We’ve gradually advanced towards contactless payments and even paying with digital watches, but now there is a growing interest in check-out free stores. Seen most prominently in Amazon’s conceptual Amazon Go store, there are others who are also trialing the new concept.

Wheelys 247 is a store which claims to be the original check-out free retailer. Integrating a POS app into their systems, customers use their mobile phones to make their purchases, meaning the store is both staffless and check-out less.

By eliminating overheads for retail, stores are able to run at a much lower cost, but staffless is most likely not the future for traditional retail. Customers still expect a level of service, which is possibly why the check-out free stores are traditionally supermarkets, designed for quick and hassle free shopping.

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And yet again, I must mention Amazon. Whilst Amazon have managed to shorten the time taken between clicking order and receiving your purchase, not many retailers have managed to follow suit. The cost of offering next day, or even same day deliveries, is difficult because of traffic congestion, distance and if it’s a single order of a dress costing £50, the cost of delivering a single item to the depths of the countryside will eat into profits.

Drones appear to solve these issues, and Amazon have been working with the UK government to deliver small parcels and examine the viability of the solution. However, current legislation bans drones being flown within 50 metres of a building or a person. This is fine if you have a giant field behind your inner city office to pick up your replacement stapler, but as for now, it’s not a solution.

Internet of Things

The rise in connected devices, from central heating to lights, it’s unsurprising that the Internet of Things is never far away from a conference discussing the future of technology. From cars which instantly update routes using Google traffic alerts, to smart fridges which can order groceries when supplies are running low, we are becoming more connected than ever before. Our inanimate objects are getting smarter, and so are our shopping habits.

What does this mean?

As a society we have very high expectations when it comes to service. We want the ease of online shopping, with the personability of instore. We have created a world where our information has created a curated service online, and now, we can expect the same level of service instore too. This is important for retailers to remember and start planning for the future by implementing omnichannel strategies especially if they are going to attract and retain the iGeneration.
The third blog in the Future of Shopping series will focus on the iGeneration and how to meet the next generation’s expectations in shopping.

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Retail Business Technology Expo is being held at the London Olympia on the 8th and 9th May 2017. If you would like to visit imageHOLDERS exhibit, please click here to sign up for your ticket.

imageHOLDERS specialise in tablet kiosks and device integration, ideal for retailers and self-service industries. For more information call +44 (0)1202 892863 (UK) or +1 877 450 2172 (US) or email [email protected].

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