We have come to an end. This is the final article in this series and I’ve been struggling to find a fitting finale for it. We have covered topics ranging from customer service, customization, psychology to retail sustainability and global influence. All relevant sides to this major economic engine. I have conducted relevant research and read a lot of expert opinions. I think the only thing left to say is how I picture my future shopping experience.
What makes me so special?
Simply? The future shopper generation is my generation: The Millennials (Synchrony Financial, 2017). These shoppers will be technology-oriented. I am a futurist, hence the title. These shoppers will make purchases mostly online, but they will visit brick-and-stones store to benefit from merged service experiences! I’m partial to bookshop-cafés for example. Further, Millennial shoppers will opt for augmented reality to enhance their experience (ibid); I limit myself to trying out new hairstyles on mobile apps…
What I am trying to say is that I am a tiny drop in a massive storm that is about to come down on the retail industry. Together with my fellow “drops”, I have the power to shape the future and this is how I picture my future shopping experience:
First, I would like to bring to your attention the Law of Technological Adoption. As Taylor Romero said in his TED Talk “Everything invented before you were born: it’s just how it’s always been. Everything invented before you were 30: it’s innovation. Everything invented after you are 30: it’s impossible.” (Taylor Romero, 2016).
Let’s take a product that I like: books. You cannot go wrong with books. Nowadays, books come in many formats; hardcover, softcover, eBooks, audio books. When I was a kid, those formats were more limited. So, softcover and hardcover, it’s just how it’s always been. Ebooks? Innovation. I can take an entire library with me in just one tiny device, everywhere, every day. Currently, I’m still in my ‘innovation’ window of opportunity. What I really want, what I imagine many an avid reader wants, is total immersion in the world of stories.
I would love to walk into a bookshop and be welcomed by the smell of chocolate, hot pastry, and fresh paper. When I walk into a specific section, I want the authors to talk to me, let them be the advertisers.
Imagine a holographic Shakespeare popping up in the Classics section to tell you more about Hamlet, or King Lear, or Romeo and Juliet. This technology is not as science fiction as you might think. With the help of digital holographic projectors and optical screens that reflect the light of projected holographic 3-D images to a target observation area, digital 3-D signage and holographic in-car dashboard display is just around the door (Phys, 2016). Why shouldn’t it be adopted in the retail industry?
How wonderful would it be, if I would walk into the Fantasy aisle and an entire panorama of the Lord of the Rings’ Middle Earth would appear with Aragorn’s holographic self to escort me to the cashier. Talk about personalization!
If I had doubts about my choice of literature and immersion, then the augmented reality technology from my phone would help me understand what each book is about. In any of these situations, I would get my information instantly and accurately, no “buffering” for me, no sir! Because I have no patience. My gratification needs to be instant.
For a long time, I thought that this imagined experience was just wishful thinking, a daydream, but technology has this miraculous quality of transforming the abstract into almost tangible interactions.
Technology is the avatar of what we dream and cannot express.
It makes self-interaction possible without selfishness. The retail industry of the future can help me understand myself better: letting me explore the reasons why I like certain products or services, the reason why I chose them, or why I am not trying out new ones. Most importantly, the accessibility of the retail industry would be so easy; I would not be held back by the inertia of buying simply because it’s comfortable. Everything will be comfortable. What is left to say other than the fact that I am looking forward to the future. And William Shakespeare speaking to me from the aisles. And being guided to a cashier by a favourite character. Thank you for imagining the future with me.
This post is brought to you by one of AQ’s Undergraduates, Laura Susnea. As part of our internship programs, undergraduates and classic interns are encouraged to take part in company culture. Laura’s primary project focusses on training programs and eLearning and how best to adapt this to industries under pressure.
This is the final entry for the Imagining the Future series. The entire collection can be read here.