The proliferation of smart devices and technologies and the pervasiveness of the Internet are changing way we live, work, play and shop. Here are five technologies that I think will transform shopping:
- Indoor Positioning Systems
Most of us have experienced the anxiety of navigating the labyrinth of large supermarkets, desperately looking for things on our shopping list. An indoor positioning system is a network of devices used to wirelessly locate objects or people inside a building. It allows shoppers to plan routes to prevent needless backtracking, get things on their shopping list in the order that they are and check out. It also enables them to share their location with friends and family and can also collect data about shopper preferences and push them relevant coupons, promotions and recommendations and facilitate access to product reviews, recipes, information and help.
- Augmented Reality
Augmented reality, which blends real world content and digital content, allows shoppers to virtually try on their intended purchases quickly and easily, be it finding the right shades of makeup or lipstick; or to know how things will look before they buy. There is already an augmented reality makeup mirror that takes an image of a shopper’s face, and then shows her what the latest cosmetics will look like on her. It can also enable shoppers to visualise how certain pieces of furniture could look inside their home, or how the patterms and colours of certain fabrics compliment the existing home décor. Combining augmented reality with 3D body-scanning technology creates a virtual fitting room where fashion shoppers can get an impression of the fit as well as the look of a dress, and try different outfits, with the ability to capture and share such looks in real-time with friends, or store these images in a wishlist for future purchases.
- Virtual Reality
With millennial shoppers the traction of virtual reality found in gaming is being explored for shopping. Using a headset designed for VR worlds such as those in video gaming, shoppers will soon be able to venture into digital shops that are more akin to showrooms rather than arenas, and browse unlimited store items at their virtual fingertips. Such VR technology is already keenly pursued by automobile showrooms where buyers can experience a car drive without leaving the showroom, and even allow them to view the inside and outside of their car of choice, and customize it in real time.
- Interactive Touch Screens
As touch screens becomes more affordable and interactive, retailers are experimenting to see how gesture-controlled screens can digitally enhance showrooms that serve as physical storefronts for online retail operations, or as pop-up stores, or even as an extension of a brick and mortar store. Advanced wall mounted in-store touchscreens are free from the constraints of physical space, improve shopper engagement and can display unlimited product information, reviews, video clips and shopable products at the swipe of the customer’s fingertips. Imagine a supermarket where you have interactive walls that you can slide by hand to reveal shelves with an unlimited assortment of products. You can interact with the product for nutrition details, and if you want to buy one, you scan the bar code of that product with your smartphone, and collect them at checkout or have them delivered to your home
- Visual Recognition
We live in a world filled with images. Intelligent visual recognition and search technology is lifting shopping to a new level. Shoppers can now search, discover and find similar merchandise visually without keyword guessing. They can now snap photos of grocery items in their homes and have them recognized, and then matched to product availability and pricing at nearby stores. Fashionistas can snap a photo of their faviorite fashion items from a catalog, magazine advertisement or even from an outdoor billboard, and purchase the same or visually similar items from retailers while on the go, or be directed to the nearest store where the recommended items are available.
The author is Roger Yuen, CEO and founder of Clozette.
Along with representatives of brands such as Amazon, FrieslandCampina and Carlsberg, Yuen will be speaking about shopper marketing at Marketing magazine’s Shopper Marketing conference, happening 11th June in Singapore.
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