Well, we’ve made it to 2018. We’ve survived Y2K, the rise of hackers, and despite GDPR we can still manage data-based targeting. While we’ve been thrown a few curve balls, the internet has come out better for it – safer, smarter and more relied upon than ever. One area that’s showing no signs of slowing is ecommerce, and the technology and trends we see today will shape how we’ll be shopping online in a decade’s time.
Goodbye credit card, hello fingerprint
To buy anything online you of course need some form of payment method. Traditionally we get out our bank card and spend time punching in multiple numbers, never quite being sure if we entered them in the correct order. Fortunately, companies such as PayPal are providing a means for customers to complete transactions with just a click of a button – no card details required. Good for convenience, bad for impulse purchases.
It’s a lot harder to steal a finger than it is to steal a card.
But beyond PayPal, the rise of “person payment” is imminent; fingerprints will replace the need for any card, password or login. Fingopay is one brand already championing the use of biometrics for payment and identity confirmation. Customers can make purchases with their finger alone, resulting in a quicker purchase experience and a much safer one as well. After all, it’s a lot harder to steal a finger than it is to steal a card.
Speed and convenience remain as key benefits of ecommerce. The ability to make purchases from almost anywhere means that you can wake up on a Monday morning, have your subscription food box waiting at your door, throw on your new dress that you had express-delivered last week, and order your coffee to pick up on your way into work. Food, clothes and your caffeine fix sorted before you have even left the house.
Don’t even have time to sit at home and order? The future of shopping has that covered too, with Tesco already using VR technology to create virtual stores at train stations and bus stops in South Korea. The store can literally be wherever you are.
What about products that traditionally require in-store interaction? This is where AR/VR technology really shines. Let’s take make-up for example, a product that often means going instore and trying on colours against your skin tone to get the perfect match. Not anymore. Last year Sephora launched their “Virtual Artist”, which lets you scan your face into their app, allowing you to virtually try their product range on your own face, removing the need to go in-store. The adoption of AR in online shopping gives consumers an opportunity to get the in-store value of product trial, with the convenience of online purchasing.
While AR/VR is opening opportunities for in-store experiences online, the humble bricks-and-mortar shop is by no means a thing of the past. The Clicks to Bricks trend is ever-increasing; online brands such as Warby Parker have seen the value of bricks-and-mortar stores in providing human experiences. By using data gained from their online presence, they have built a retail location strategy that aligns with their customer base, resulting in ease of location for customers while maximising their foot traffic and revenue.
What might shopping in 2028 look like?
How will we be shopping in 10 years’ time? If we’ve learned anything from Back to the Future, it’s that we should never bank on crazy technological advancements like hoverboards as we’ll just end up disappointing many generations to come. But I like to live on the edge so here’s my take on what a day of shopping in the future might look like.
You wake up on a Saturday morning and stroll sleepily downstairs to your front door where you’re greeted with a freshly prepared breakfast. Subscription food boxes are a thing of the past, and now your alarm is synced to request breakfast from your favourite local café.
But maybe you’re of these people who hit snooze a few too many times. That’s not a problem – the request won’t be sent until your movement past your bedroom door is registered via a microchip embedded into your foot. No cold breakfast for you!
So now you’re fuelled and ready for a day out shopping. You jump in your car (sorry guys, still no flying cars) and during your journey you voice search what deals are available at your favourite stores. It’s as simple as saying, “Evie, tell me about today’s deals” – Evie will already know from your calendar that you’re shopping today, and based on your browsing behaviour and weekly habits, she’ll know which stores you want to go to.
By this point you’re probably wondering who Evie is. Well, Alexa retired a few years ago and Evie is Alexa’s daughter: a new AI assistant that automatically connects to any compatible device in your location, delivering a seamless, personalised experience whether you’re at home, on the road or even in a different country.
Shopping centres still exist in 2028, but wandering around aimlessly in a department store is a thing of the past. Now, once you step over the threshold into a store, your watch shows a curated list of items that you may be interested in based on your browsing behaviour. It tells you the product, price and exactly where you can find it in the store. You find a dress for the wedding you’re attending tomorrow and it’s a perfect fit so you head to pay, but you don’t need the product or your credit card. Instead you select the dress from your curated list and it’s sent straight to the merchant’s system.
A tap of your fingerprint as you exit the store links the item you selected to your payment details and completes the transaction. No need to take the dress with you either, it’ll be dispatched by drone as soon as you get near your house, so there’s no need to lug bags around the centre and no chance of missing your delivery either.
After a big day of shopping, you get back in your car and Evie asks if you’d like to order your favourite takeaway. The calorie breakdown is automatically added into your fitness tracker – after all, you want to fit into that new dress. Annoyingly you get stuck in traffic on the way home, but that’s not a problem as your dinner will only be sent once you’re back home.
Later that night you crawl into bed and look through your summary for the day which Evie has beamed onto your wall. It shows how much you’ve spent vs. your monthly budget, the calories you’ve consumed, what your schedule is tomorrow, and care instructions for the dress you purchased today. No need to check multiple apps or sites to find all this information.
And with that, you get Evie to launch your streaming media account and she puts on the next episode of Game of Thrones Season 18 and dims the lights. Good night, you tech-savvy shopper!