The change in shopping experience
With robotic assistance, iBeacons, e-mannequins, virtual changing rooms, it’s clear to see that the 21st century has taken a huge leap into the digital world. According to a survey by Deloitte, over one quarter (27.9%) of Canadians prefer to shop online than go to the mall, supported by 2013 online sales estimates in Canada (eMarketer) reaching $21.6-billion, which was up by almost 18% from the previous year.
Yet as technology and the shopping experience gradually changes, it’s easy to oversee the digitally enhanced retail experiences and innovations that aid our day-to-day shopping desires. A decade ago, if someone told us we could try on hundreds of clothes in a space of minutes, we would have laughed. The experience of trying on clothes has dramatically changed as we can browse through online shops, type in our measurements and see our favourite collections on the ‘virtual me’.
For those that feel the ‘virtual me’ isn’t enough, fashion companies like Superdry offer catwalk videos for their products to help us decide if the texture or the way the material sits is right for us.
Try before you buy is a phrase that has become the ideal reality for home owners as Ikea launched their 3D app, which transforms their catalog to an online preview of furniture in your house.
Recently introduced to UK stores are the iBeacons, Bluetooth transmitting mannequins that are able to send across alerts to neighbouring smartphones, with details of in-store offers or even information on the items they’re wearing. The tracking accuracy is that immaculate that it is able to communicate with our smartphones at the optimal time to encourage us to buy. This smart technology also has the power to gather information on us as shoppers, our habits and desired items to target us better in the future.
High-end fashion stores have even implemented iPads into their walls to allow their entire collection to be viewed online, while developments are being made to allow us to interact with a virtual assistance via the technology. Even signs and banners that we see in supermarkets will be replaced with smart labels and sensors that have the intelligence to suggest products that will go with the ingredients in our basket, nutritional advice, its source and even alert you of potential allergy threats.
Yet with so many products being placed online, a consumer has the ultimate choice on where to shop often allowing us to complete a day’s worth of shopping on just one site, be it clothes, groceries or appliances. We can buy what we want, when we want. With the choices available, some experts indicate that the online world will become too diverse and overwhelming for consumers, sending us back to traditional forms of shopping, visiting physical stores and wanting to find bargains like in Black Friday hauls. The selection of cheap products online can backfire as we search for reduced quality items.
While statistics show that the internet has helped retailer’s profits, we are in fact becoming impulsive buyers, continuously adding products to our online basket as we browse. Only then when we reach the checkout stage do we notice our ‘overbuying’ habits as research by Milo shows that typically 67% of us discard our baskets at the checkout, with 55% of us opting out because the shipping costs are too high.
As the online generation adapts to the development of the net, we also demand a need for speed with next day delivery and on-the-go products like 3D printing. And while the thought of drones delivering your parcel within minutes of ordering may seem so futuristic, it’s surprisingly close. After all, Amazon has asked the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to lift the rule of prohibiting the use of drones for commercial purposes. The concept of thirty minute deliveries via robots could become reality.
What does the future hold?
We’ve already entered a world of wireless payments and ‘Click & Collect’, so what else could we really need? It seems like quicker payments are next on the line providing opportunities of multi-payments. Soon, we may be pre-ordering our monthly shopping through the click of a smart watch or even using voice recognition software that memorizes our typical shopping list. Gesture controlled devices are also in the midst of being trialed looking to improve our relationship and natural experience with computers and making online shopping feel lifelike. The future is all about personalization and connecting with the shopper, creating cutting edge technology that will make memorize, understand and deliver.
This guest blog article is written by Charlotte Corner, PR Executive at Search Laboratory.