How shopping will look in the future

We live in times of such technological frenzy, that it seems every day our wildest sci-fi dreams unfold before our eyes. Tell someone ten years ago that most of the internet traffic in the world today would be via a mobile device, you’d hardly have been believed.

But the future, it feels, is now. What does this mean for the consumer retail markets? Let’s turn to our crystal balls and envisage ourselves in the not so distant future to find out.

Mobile revolution

The statistics about the increase in consumers using mobile devices to shop are staggering. It is no surprise that retailers are turning their attention towards making their customers’ mobile shopping experience more streamlined than ever before.

Over the 2015 Thanksgiving weekend in the US, 56.7 percent of smartphone owners used their mobile devices to conduct some type of shopping activity. Also in the US, 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months. Mcommerce, as it is neatly labelled, will account for 49 percent of ecommerce, or $252 billion in sales, by 2020. Retailers are mobilising their tech troops.

So what does this mean for shoppers in the future? One innovative new concept is being experimented with by hot retail brand Nordstrom. ‘Reserve & Try’ allows customers to select merchandise through their mobile phone and have it placed in a dressing room so it’s ready and waiting when they arrive, with their name on the door. These shopping experiences may take a while to dominate the high street, but similar tech-fuelled initiatives are on the horizon, such as...

Digital dressing rooms

For many years, major brands have been taking on the challenge that the term ‘digital dressing rooms’ has posed for them. While their approaches differ in style, most have adopted augmented reality (AR) technology. Converse, for example, have launched their ‘Sampler’ app, which lets you to see what a pair of shoes will look like on you simply by pointing your iPhone camera at your feet. As far back as 2011, both Uniqlo, Superdry, and Topshop were experimenting with virtual mirrors, which allow customers to see what they look like in garments without having to actually try them on. While many of these ideas are still in the beta phases, don’t be surprised to see AR technology dominating the high street shopping experience within the next decade.

The advertising experience

Minority Report was one of the most iconic and scarily prophetic stories to have emerged from the sci-fi scene. In the film adaptation, we see tom Cruise enter a GAP clothing store, where he is greeted personally by an advert suggesting clothes for his character to purchase. With heavily connected mobile devices in our pockets, maybe this reality is also not too far away. As we pass digital billboards, they could receive a signals from our phones and then show a personalised commercial based on our internet search history, not unlike the adverts we see when browsing the web today. The technology is here, it's simply a matter a time before someone makes it happen!

From factory to front door

The more we purchase from our mobiles, the more we need home delivery. Unsurprisingly, Amazon are one-step ahead of the game here, experimenting with delivery drones that could transport packages to your doorstep within four hours or less. In the future, our skies could eventually be littered with low flying aircraft such as these, getting our fashion choices to our doorstep without the wait that comes with conventional delivery services. From factory to front door, in no time at all!

Be the designer

Personalisation and customisation are two trends that fashion retailers will strive towards when experimenting with new technologies. 3D printers are fast becoming a more accessible consumer product, with designers, engineers, scientists, and craftsmen already enjoying these miraculous machines. Alongside open source software that accompanies many 3D printers, consumers could design their own clothing using templates and materials provided by retailers, and print it out at home. One day, perhaps in the much more distant future, high street shops could be done away with altogether!

If you’ve got your eye on the future of retail, you might be interested in the MA in Fashion Retail and Luxury Management from London College of Contemporary Arts.

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