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Shopping in the future: forthcoming tech that will change the way we shop
Shopping in the digital age is vastly different to the early days of commerce. Bricks-and-mortar stores still have a place on the high street, thankfully, but the Internet has transformed the way we buy our stuff.
Virtually anything can now be purchased from the comfort of an armchair or while out walking the dog in a muddy field, deliveries are mind-bogglingly fast and digital shopping experiences continue to evolve, presenting ever more satisfying ways to browse product lines and confirm purchases.
But what does the future hold for shopping? In this post, we’ve picked out what we believe to be the most exciting tech trends on the horizon that will change the way we shop – for the better.
Online retailers have long offered the ability for customers to speak to customer service representatives via online chat windows, but there’s another form of this technology emerging, and it isn’t driven by humans.
Chatbots are clever pieces of software capable of mimicking human responses to customer queries. Far from Terminator-style robots destined to take over the world, they’re remarkably useful tools for both retailers and shoppers.
So smart are chatbots, that you’re unlikely to realise you’re dealing with one, but the speed with which they respond to shopping queries will make the lack of a living, breathing human being at the other end completely irrelevant.
Once a pipe dream of the 1990s, virtual reality (VR) is finally making its way into the mainstream. And, while it currently resides on gaming platforms such as Playstation 4, there’s a strong chance it’ll make its way into commerce, too.
Imagine being able to ‘pick up’ your intended purchase, and turn it over in your virtual hands to see every nook and cranny of the design; picture yourself donning a headset in order to wander through a clothing store – from the comfort of your couch. VR will make for some very exciting shopping experiences in the not-too-distant future.
Robot shopping assistants
If you’ve ever spent what felt like an ice age wandering around a store trying to find a member of staff for assistance, the idea of ever-present robot shopping assistants one day making their way onto the high street will probably put a broad smile on your face.
There’s no doubting the challenges such technology might introduce for those working in the retail industry, but if robotic shopping assistants can play nicely with their human counterparts, the customer experience should improve dramatically.
Robot shopping assistants are designed to speak multiple languages and have laser-guided knowledge of the store in which they operate. That means fast responses to queries and no linguistic challenges for foreign shoppers. What’s more, they’d be capable of storing vast quantities of product information – far more than any human – and that could prove a real boon when you simply need details on an intended purchase, quickly.
The future of shopping might sound like something from a science fiction movie, but those films told tales of a future that would inevitably arrive at some stage. We’re now living in that time, and the way we choose, find and pay for stuff looks set to change significantly over the next few years.