Welcome to the Future of Retail

How Will Technology Change The Way We Shop?

Many industry analysts are predicting and projecting what the future of business technology will look like. Specifically, how our interactions with virtual and augmented realities will merge with mobile technology. One of the biggest industries that will be impacted is retail. So what does shopping look like in the near future?

When Amazon came out with Amazon Go recently, it was hailed as a revolutionary concept. As a frictionless, bricks and mortar shopping experience without the need for plastic or paper money, it is revolutionary. The technology that Amazon Go will use (for now) is mobile-based. Their retail dongle, Amazon Dash had already made the lives of consumers easier by enabling them to place orders automatically or whenever a specific grocery item would run out. Combine the two technologies, and you get pretty close to creating the ultimate shopping experience.

While Amazon Go could initially cause some job losses on the high street, more jobs are likely to be created in the logistics industry. Consumers would also still require help making in-store choices, which may require more learned in-store human support teams. Recently, a retail chain in Japan was the first to pilot Panasonic’s ‘Reji Robo’ or robo-shopping bagger, a cashier-less terminal where shoppers scan their own items before the register bags them up.

VR Shopping

Augmented and virtual reality shopping is predicted to be the big game changer. Alibaba has already debuted a VR shopping store and others are close on its heels. The experience of bricks and mortar stores will be replicated in the virtual world. On top of that, instead of having to open your shopping list on your phone or scrap of paper, you will be able to do so within the virtual environment while you research which product provides better value for money and what other people think about it.

Image: Softbank

Robots will also factor heavily in the future of retail. Softbank’s Pepper robot was recently confirmed responsible for a 70% increase in profits at Californian technology retailer b8ta. “The traffic was definitely up” said b8ta’s director of marketing James Kuo. “It worked out wonderfully, it was just a great collaborative experience.”

This is the future of shopping, but we aren’t talking 30 years from now. This will happen within the next few years. Gartner predicts over a hundred million people will be shopping in augmented reality by 2020, and robots are already creeping into our stores. There are pros and cons to continuous innovation and the pros should outweigh the cons. Yet, many believe this new age spells trouble for the blue collar retail worker. Welcome to the future of shopping, it’s here.