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The future of shopping

The future of shopping

Shopping and stores are evolving at speed with technology driving rapid change for consumers.

Bricks and mortar retailers increasingly have to embrace new channels or risk losing business, especially when online shopping is forcing them to be more interactive and creative.

With the UK and US at the forefront of some of the most futuristic in-store experiences we look at three tech innovations that are set to revolutionize how we buy.

Smart price tags

UK hardware chain B&Q are testing ‘smart’ price tags, which can change prices in real time, depending on the profile of the customer who is browsing.

The technology will be Wi-Fi enabled and sit on the edge of shelves and will identify customers through a chip in their mobile phone.

While the focus is to reward loyal customers by offering them discounts, the smart price tags can also change prices depending on the days of the week, or demand for the product, so enticing shoppers to visit at off-peak times.

The system uses spending habits and information from loyalty cards to offer discounts, like a modern version of old school coupons.

While it’s a similar model to how hotel rooms and airline tickets are sold online, this kind of dynamic pricing is a first for stores.

Magic mirrors

The days of queuing to try on clothes in a changing room will soon be over with the introduction of virtual dressing rooms.

GlobalJapanese fashion store Uniqlo opened a store in Union Square, San Francisco last year with a screen that helps shoppers decide what item to buy without having to try them on.

Developed in the UK, the half-mirror touch panel allows customers to put on one item and then select other colours and products so they can see what they look like.

The modified reflection can take customers through their range just by touching the screen.

Intelligent packaging

Supermarkets are also using technology to save money and improve the quality of their fresh goods with packaging that alerts that they’re coming to the end of their shelf life.

Twenty five per cent of all food produced on the planet is lost, according to a recent report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

A large percentage of this loss takes place in the supply chain.

Deterioration is one of the main reasons why food is destroyed but, a great amount of food is destroyed unnecessarily, simply because a random sample has shown signs of spoiling.

Enter intelligent packaging,which uses a sensor to monitor and collect data on the quality of the packaged products.

There are two types of sensor: one is integrated into the packaging and monitors the gas composition, while the other type registers temperature and time and indirectly collects information about the packaged product.

The recorded temperatures and times are used to calculate the expected deterioration date of the packaged product.

Interactive packaging

The newest type of packaging is interactive, which monitors the quality of the product and generates a signal that should lead to a particular response.

This technology is still in development, but will revolutionize the ‘best before end date’ approach that they currently use.

Getting interactive

Retailers are also using new technology to get information about their customers shopping experience and to make a visit to their stores unique.

Brands who are experimenting in this space include Hugo Boss, who deployed heat sensors in stores to track customers’ progress through the store.

These sensors help understand where the high-traffic areas are, meaning the company can better position its products.

Also Topshop, who transformed the window of its flagship fashion shop on Oxford Street in London into a virtual reality waterslide.

Visitors were able to put on an Oculus headset and sit on a giant inflatable at the entrance to the water slide, and experience a thrilling water slide ride through London.

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