Many shop owners and local businesses view the web as a threat to their livelihood. The danger it is feared, is that as more people start shopping online they will have less and less reason to visit the high-streets and spend money in physical stores. Shopping online is quicker, cheaper and easier than buying in a shop so why would you do anything else?
Well of course there are still benefits to shopping in person which are unlikely to change any time soon. Shopping in person means that the customer gets to see and feel the item they’re thinking of buying before they part with their cash, and it means that they can get what they want right then and there.
So high-street stores aren’t going anywhere just yet, but they will need to evolve if they hope to face up to the digital competition and if they want to stay relevant. As new technology is introduced stores are going to have to either incorporate it or counteract it, and thus we can expect to see some changes in the near future to the very nature of our shopping experiences. Business owners take note, this is the future of shoppingâ€¦
The Near Future
Imminently we are likely to see two big changes to stores. The first is that the shopping experience is likely going to start mimicking that of online shopping more â€“ meaning that it will be quicker and easier than it is right now. You can already see that to a degree as many convenience stores and supermarkets offer ‘self-checkout’ machines to let customers scan and pay for their items without having to stand in a long queue or talk to anyone. Meanwhile the ability to scan debit and credit cards without needing a chip and pin for smaller transactions has also helped. More stores will begin to use more of these kinds of systems, and we can expect to see apps and NFC play a role too â€“ eventually you might be able to order what you want on your phone then literally carry it out the store making the whole process just as easy as only shopping. Tablets and computers will also replace traditional POS systems, while kiosks will be smarter and more powerful.
The other way that physical stores need to adapt is to try and make better use of their advantages over the web. That means putting emphasis on the experience that a customer gets â€“ letting them pick up and try out the items they are going to buy. Again we can already see this to a degree with many mobile phone stores now letting you play with the devices without getting hassled by the staff. People will come into stores in order to try things for themselves and they want to do so without feeling as though they are being watched the whole time. Computer game stores could let you try the games right in the store, while you might also be able to make a day of trying on clothes while sipping complementary tea.
So in the near future shops will become quicker and easier to use while placing more emphasis on the tactile/experience element â€“ that’s how they’ll survive in the face of incoming technology. Further in the future though there will likely be some even more interesting technologies for them to take advantage of.
One of the biggest and most interesting examples of this is 3D printing â€“ in the future more and more stores will likely offer ‘custom’ products that can be printed then and there. You could order the same ornament, cup or pen holder that you see in store but in a different colour or with your name on. And if the store doesn’t have what you want in stock? Then they could print it right then and there for you. Many stores are already starting to offer 3D printing services for people who want to bring in files on a memory stick, and this could well represent a true marriage of online browsing with physical shopping that changes the face of retail for everyoneâ€¦
- License: Creative CommonsÂ image source
- License: Creative CommonsÂ image source
- License: Royalty Free or iStockÂ source
The contributor of todayâ€™s post is Mark Thompson. Mark is a freelance blogger currently working for Aireus, leading providers of restaurant POS systems.Â Mark is a culinary enthusiast and loves to cook oriental food with wife, Linda.