I took a dive into recent history, and read an article written by Lin Grossman from about 4 years ago. How did the future look like before Covid-19 when our reality was just a science fiction saga.
So we are not yet blessed by two hours delivery by drones, and physical storefronts are still out there (though we do not visit them as much), and regretfully the virtual fitting room is not yet commercial. But I share the same vision as The Futurist Faith Popcorn and “Given retail’s steady migration to mobile and e-commerce, you may be wondering what retail will look like in the future”. As predicted by futurist Faith Popcorn, we can continue to expect hyper-customized concierge and on-demand services, and what the writer calls “consutainment,” the integration of ultra-convenience, consumption, and entertainment.
What can we expect to see in the future based on current technology, move over Jetsons, we are in the next step of human evolution.
Today, the norm is a two-day delivery, but if you’ve been paying attention, you know that’s changing. In fact, surprisingly 25% of consumers report that they would abandon their cart if a one-day delivery wasn’t an option.
This is just the beginning. The Two-hour drone delivery is coming in the foreseeable future, Manna is a home-grown Irish company that is running live autonomous drone delivery right now in Galway, Ireland, has licenses to take it across the European Union, and is poised to — at the right moment — take its tech and knowhow across the Atlantic. And of course, Amazon is already talking about 30-minute drone delivery.
Your Kitchen Will Restock Itself
While we value the “Dash Button” pioneered by Amazon, the near future seems promising where our pantry will literally order your products for you. One stealth startup, WePlenish, is already launching a line of “IoT-powered” smart containers that promise to revolutionize the modern kitchen.
You won’t have to worry about running out of essentials; like coffee, pet food, or snacks because your containers will sense inventory levels and replenish those items without you lifting a finger. No more waking up to find your coffee stash empty or emergency grocery trips to buy pet food.
Know Exactly What’s In Stock And Where
Have you ever gone to a store hoping you can buy a specific product, only to learn that it is out of stock? A new feature from Google Home allows you to find in-stock products at the closest store, just ask your Google Assistant.
For example: “Google, where can I find the Nintendo Switch console?” The Assistant will tell you how many stores have it right then and how close they are.
Of course, it isn’t currently available for all stores in all locations, but you can already see a future when it becomes a standard.
“With the proliferation of mobile devices, smart glass, and smart appliances, e-commerce and the marketing associated with it will become more intertwined to our future instant gratification lifestyles,” says Greg Yevich, co-founder and technology director of Operation ROI, an e-commerce marketing firm and our client. “Every touchpoint — from digital to TV, radio and social networks — will let shoppers complete immediate purchases on the spot.”
No More Juggling Shopping Bags
One of the major pains of going out to shop is that you have to transport them yourself, cart them through the store and carry them out to your car. If you visit multiple stores and make many purchases, this can be cumbersome.
In the near future, the Bonobos model may become more common. This means that the store does not carry in-store inventory. Instead, you try out items in-store and pay upfront for them and your purchases are sent to your home. Not ideal with a two-day shipment, but with a two-hour delivery? Thirty minutes? Less? In the future, your purchases may arrive at your home before you.
Digital Dressing Rooms And Curated Experiences
Order drinks, adjust lighting, call an associate, you can do it all with just a few clicks. In the future, heading to the store may be just like going to the movies, you will only go for the experience:
● Stores hosting in-store-only sales and unique themed events
● High-end stores using driverless cars to chauffeur preferred customers
● More “connected stores” hosting interactive experiences
High-end retailer Rebecca Minkoff tripled sales with interactive touch-screens set in the dressing room enabling shoppers to choose items to be sent to them. The dressing room mirror/screen also enabled them to view those same items styled with different colors, sizes, and looks. And dressing rooms as we know them may become a thing of the past. After all, why go to the trouble of getting undressed when you can use an accurate 3D version of yourself to try out items and get suggestions about fit, style, color, and more?
Top beauty retailer, Sephora, is already using its highly interactive app to let shoppers try on new makeup colors and get recommendations via the phone’s camera.
Robot Customer Service
Additionally, Robots may offer another form of self-service that people crave. Lowe’s is testing the LoweBot, which speaks multiple languages and can help people find and learn about items. Moreover, Best Buy already has a fully functional robotic checkout arm and some malls are even using robot security guards and lastly it seems that sales staff may become a thing of the past.
A Day In The Life Of A Future Consumer
So, what will the future of retail look like?
You make plans to virtually try out new looks at a local store with friends. And you might even whip up a party in minutes with drone delivery. In addition, you are able to find the coveted birthday gift at the last minute and with just a few clicks it lands on your doorstep. It seems that schlepping bags through a crowded mall will become so 2017.
Using a multitude of social and in-store receptors, like surveys, contests, and interactive apps, retailers and brands will know more about what we want — from what style of shoes we like to what lipstick looks good on our skin tone — and use that data to roll out more effective, personalized and interactive marketing campaigns.
This means that retailers will constantly need to evolve, innovate and unify their omnichannel efforts so shoppers’ paths to purchase are as frictionless as possible.
Convenience, experience, and options — it will be a whole new world.