The way Americans make their purchasing decisions has been dramatically altered. More consumers are avoiding the stores and shopping with their smart phones and tablets because of the intense rapidity of advances in technology and online shopping. But the physical stores that remain will likely provide resources and services that are more about practical experiences and little about selling a product, for instance, Apple Inc.’s stores.
Consumers stand in stores, using their smartphones to compare costs and product reviews; family and friends immediately weigh in on shopping decisions through social media; and when they’re ready to purchase, an ever-increasing list of online retailers deliver commodities directly to them and some of them deliver on the same day.
On demand coupons: Stores like British retailer Tesco and drugstore Duane Reade now are experimenting with beacons, Bluetooth-enabled gadgets that can correspond directly with the buyers smartphone to provide discounts, lead them to a desired product in a store or entitle them to pay remotely.
3-D printing: Within the next 10 to 20 years, 3-D printing could bring major changes in retail. For example, a simple coffee mug. Instead of the product being imported from China, interested buyer could just download the code of the coffee cup and 3-D print it at a retail outlet or in their own house.
Order yourself: Perhaps, someday buying household supplies will not take any effort at all. A home that is equipped with smart technology could be able to use prior consumer history and real-time information the house tracks to sense when a light bulb burns out and order for a new one automatically.
Holograms: Recently EBay acquired PhiSix, a company that creates life-size 3-D models of clothing that can be used in dressing rooms to try on various colors of clothing or different styles. Consumers can check out 30 or 40 items of clothing for real without physically trying them on. The technology can be used in a virtual dressing room as well, showing the buyer, what the clothes look like when they are walking on the street or hitting a golf club.
Few companies have tested this already. British digital agency Engage designed a Virtual Style Pod that studied buyers and created a life-like image, in which luxury apparel brands like Alexander McQueen and DKNY were showcased. The Pod was exhibited in shopping malls in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.