Over the years, technology has changed how we do everything – how we communicate with friends, how we travel, and even how we shop. New systems are being built to better suit the needs of retailers and shoppers. The Hudson’s Bay recently introduced beacon technology into their stores – a bluetooth technology that is able to send push notifications about special promotions straight to your phone and Nordstrom recently introduced a shoppable Instagram account – a program that allows followers to purchase Nordstrom goods directly off their Instagram feeds, but that’s not where shopping technologies stop. BBC News recently released an interactive map that revealed what they think the future of shopping will look like in 2020.
Here are a few of the new technologies that could change the future of shopping:
1. Facial Recognition:
This software would allow retailers to physically determine how customers react to their products. A firm in San Diego called Emotient has created a facial recognition software that helps retailers gauge customers’ moods as they shop and track different reactions to brands and packaging. Some critics are saying this technology is quite intrusive.
2. Contactless Payment
There are already a number of apps that allow us to make payments with our smartphones. Amazon released an experimental app earlier this year that allows users to store gift card numbers and loyalty cards on Android and Amazon devices for a variety of retailers – the app display gift cards as bar codes or QR codes that can scanned at the register. Soon we will be able to store credit & debit card information on our phones for quick checkouts, but making payments could get even easier. A supermarket chain in France called Auchan recently trialled fingerprint payments. Biometric data was stored on a payment card, using near-field communication to interact with the till.
3. Virtual Stores
In the Seoul Metro, Tesco has set up a virtual shop that allows passing passengers to order groceries during their morning commute through realistic digital shelves. The shelves are full of produce that scan directly into smartphones and are delivered to the passengers when they get home from work. In the future, virtual stores could pop-up anywhere there are large touchscreens – making shopping even more convenient for shoppers and saving space for retailers who have no room for real shelves.
4. Robotic Assistants
Hate interacting with retail sales people? Robotic assistants could take over their role. Robotic assistants are already in use in South Korea for stacking shelves, checking inventory, and keeping up stock levels and fresh products. The Carnegie Mellon University recently developed AndyVision – a stock-taking robot that is able to scan shelves, efficiently locate product, keep detailed inventory lists and alert employees if stock is low or out of place. A lot of retail jobs could be at stake if robotic assistants become the norm.
Other technologies such as virtual change rooms, 3-D printing shops, smart labels and on-demand delivery are also on BBC’s list of technologies that could change the future of shopping. You can see the full interactive list here.