I'm not the biggest fan of online shopping. I prefer to go into a shop and physically browse, touch and try on clothes and accessories before I buy them. I like to get a feel for the fabrics and textures. It's a gamble buying something online without trying it on first as you don't know by looking at a picture whether it will fit right or how the fabrics look or feel. There have been many times when I've liked the look of something on the rail but changed my mind as soon as I've tried it on. Sure, you can return things you buy online if they're not right but to me that seems more of an effort and more time consuming than actually getting up from your computer and driving to the mall to go shopping. But online shopping does appear to be playing a bigger and bigger part in people's shopping habits and as a result brick and mortar shops are looking for new high tech ways to bring their shoppers back.
According to an article I read today, brand and trend consultants PSFK has just released a new report that reveals new screen sensors, scanners and other technology is being developed for use in shops to make the whole shopping experience more high tech and hence more "hassle-free".. supposedly. I'm not convinced. In fact, some of them are just completely ridiculous.
Some of the new features include changing pods that fall from the ceiling (not sure what the function of that would be... to deal with space issues?) and custom soundtracks that match the item of clothing you're trying on (not sold on this either).
You will also be able to see yourself in outfits or make up without actually trying them on via virtual tools. Instead of mirrors in dressing rooms, there will be cameras to take your photo or video and show you what you'd look like. I guess this would be useful with cosmetics but If you're going to go the effort of going to a shop and into a changing room, why not go the extra mile and just try something on?! Is it really that much effort to take off your pants and try a new pair on?
Malls are also developing a new technology called "MyBestFit" which uses full-body sensors to assess your body shape and suggest the right cuts for you based on 200,000 points of measurement. It also suggests new brands that would suit your body type. I guess this could be useful, especially for less confident shoppers and it's less intrusive than some of the other features as you could take it or leave it.
Sensors are also being developed to guess your age and gender and tailor an in-store pitch. And this extends to food shopping too. According to PSFK's report, "The Next Generation Meal Planning Solution [from Intel and Kraft] incorporates sensors that use anonymous video analytics software to detect the age and gender of the person standing in front of it to determine which recipes may be a good fit based on collected demographic information." I find it annoying enough when shopping clerks hang around me pushing products let alone having a computer telling me what to buy and what to eat for dinner.
What's more, retailers are increasingly bridging the gap between shopping / fashion and gaming by luring in buyers with video-game inspired experiences. Xbox's motion-sensing Kinect technology is being incorporated into shopping. You can wave your hand and see a new product, paint virtual graffiti on the storefront, or even make a ballerina in the window display dance. This is all in an effort to get you to go in the shop and buy something. These gimmicks aren't something that would impress me but I guess those who like computers and video games might be swayed...
All these scanners and sensors make me think of going through customs at the airport. I don't think I want to be monitored at every step. I'd rather keep my shopping experience simple and technology free.
What do you think?
Sources of Information
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