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The Future Of Retail: 5 Trends That Show Shopping Has Gone High Tech

The world of ecommerce has been gradually changing the way we shop for years, with over a third of all shopping now being done over the internet.  So it’s hardly surprising that high-street retailers have started adopting interactive shopping techniques in their stores to entice customers back.


                                                                           Image by Jim
Here are five inventive ways that this is happening

In Store iPads

An increasingly popular way for clothing retailers to invite customers back into stores is by including iPads on shop floors and in fitting rooms. These iPads allow customers to not only browse through stock, but request that staff bring them different sizes of clothing while they remain inside the fitting rooms.
When making a purchase, customers can also use these iPads to pay online so they won’t have to worry about the hassle of standing in long queues at the till.  Many retailers offer a policy which states that all purchases will arrive at the customer’s home within just 90 minutes.

In Store Concierge Service

If there was ever any proof that chain stores are embracing the digital age to keep consumers coming back, it’s Waitrose’ recent decision to begin a concierge service that will help guide costumers through every step of ordering online.
Customers can also collect products they’ve already bought online from inside Waitrose stores. These new ‘welcome desks’ will feature in stores next year and will include tablet computers with which customers can make orders. The desks will even offer a dry cleaning service in certain Waitrose stores.

Mobile Phones

Shopping on mobile phones is an increasingly popular customer preference that is crossing over into the high street. Many consumers go into a store not knowing what they are looking for until they search the store’s website on their phone to find items they will then choose to find in the store.
This has led many high street retailers to produce mobile phone applications that recommend products interactively.  In America, the clothing store, Hointer, offers an advanced mobile app that allows customers to go to a store and scan the barcode of the clothes they’d like to try on. These clothes are then delivered by staff to the fitting room.

Social Media

‘Social shopping’ has become a major lifeline for retailers, and it’s estimated that £3bn of retail sales will be influenced by social media before 2014, as nearly half of all social media users now make decisions about purchases through sites like Facebook. This is mainly achieved by browsing through online reviews and recommendations.
eBay recently launched a new shopping device on their website called ‘Help Me Shop’, which is designed to give guidance by letting consumers save links to items they have seen from around the web which they can then share with their friends on Facebook. You can even create a poll through which your friends can vote on whether the item should be bought or not.

Digital Hangers and Mirrors

Okay, so this is kicking things up a notch into almost Orwellian territory, but the latest thing from the Intel Corporation is a high-tech mirror that allows customers to see how they look in a particular outfit when stood in front of an LCD monitor.
Using parametric technology, this machine creates this illusion by taking note of a customer’s height and weight. This is still very much an idea in its early stages, but its popularity in the shopping malls of California suggests these electronic visuals could be the future of the high street.
In Japan, this kind of interactive shopping has gotten even spookier, with the introduction of new ecommerce software involving high-tech hangers. A hidden sensor inside these hangers detects when an item of clothing has been lifted from a rail, and automatically sends a signal to a computer that recommends a clothing combination the customer can buy. Freakishly cool!
What do you think? Is this something you are willing to embrace or do you think it has all gone too far and out of control? I’d love to hear your opinions!

Featured images:

License: Creative Commons
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Liam Brenan is a writer who wrote this blog while shopping on his iPhone. He loves ecommerce software and recommends Sparkstone.

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