It's become abundantly clear that the future of retail is computer- and mobile-phone-oriented. These days, most people do the majority of their shopping online because of the convenience, customization and bargain prices. Most walk-in retailers offer their products online, realizing the importance of cornering this huge market. Of course, online shopping options are constantly evolving, so here's a look at what to expect in the future.
It's important to keep in mind how the future of retail affects consumers and retail employees. It's an unfortunate reality that computer systems are quickly taking over many jobs. For example, most supermarkets these days have self-checkout machines that allow you to scan and pay for your groceries on your own. It's highly likely that these automated kiosks are going to become increasingly common as technology progresses. Within a decade, you may be able to go purchase a new television, for example, without ever talking to an employee.
On that note, smartphones are definitely going to play a major role when it comes to digital sales and the future of retail. Obviously online shopping is not going anywhere, and mobile devices make that activity portable. Imagine walking into a restaurant, opening the menu on your phone and placing your order, all without ever speaking to a server. Expect digital sales to become more integrated with mobile technology as the future of retail quickly becomes a reality.
There are plenty of current startup companies focusing on the future of retail. Emotient, for example, is a company that uses facial-expression recognition software to get real-time opinions of products, ads and services from focus groups. Rather than having the panel fill out a survey about what the members liked and didn't like about an ad or product, the highly developed software captures their impressions and emotions based on their facial expressions. This allows retail companies to target their products and ads directly to specific demographics.
Another company, Slyce, is working on changing the future of retail as we know it. Imagine you're walking down the street and you see your dream car, a unique tie, a purse or anything else that catches your eye. Just take a quick picture of it with your mobile phone and the Slyce app brings up a list of similar items so you can buy them online. Being able to immediately purchase products after you see them on other people, store displays or advertisements makes shopping highly customizable, not to mention convenient.
There are plenty of other companies currently developing technology that's going to make the future of retail exciting. Retail employees may want to seek out ways to keep up with technology and retail trends because it's clear that retail is going to become more digitalized and less person-to-person. While consumers can look forward to convenience and ease, retail workers may find the future of retail daunting and worrisome.
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