After almost a decade of decline, the future of the British high street is now a hot topic for debate. The 2008 recession combined with the public’s ever growing obsession with internet shopping and the need for something new and exciting has caused local high streets to fall rapidly behind the times. So, what next? In an age where the life cycle of brands has shortened and the focus of the consumer is more on convenience, we are seeing a change in attitudes towards technology from the high street retailer.
Here’s a quick peek in to what we can expect to see on our high streets in the future:
The Touch Screen
Shops and restaurants are now quickly adopting the touch screen along with self-service systems to remove the queueing process. Customer frustration at the checkout has driven retailers to implement a smoother and quicker retail experience. Even restaurants are now using tablets to speed up ordering and some have even gone so far as to have tablets as tables so that diners can browse a virtual copy of the menu and send their order straight to the kitchen.
The Smart Shelf
Along side the touch screen is the smart shelf; a very advanced way of digital shopping using artificial intelligence and visual cognition technology to choose your product from a computer-generated shelf. This is starting to appear in the US and will no doubt hit the UK in the not so distant future.
On the go
The smart phone has fundamentally changed the way we shop. Not only are you able to browse for products; smart phones have become forms of ID as well as hubs of information and they have revolutionised the way we pay for things. Apps such as the one adopted by Starbucks where you can order your coffee to be ready and waiting at your chosen store are attractive to the busy consumer. Time is now a luxury and it is only a matter of time before more and more retailers adopt this type of ‘click and collect’.
Enhanced interaction has been at the forefront of how retailers interact with consumers. Just recently, the global make up brand, Sephora, patented technology that allows customers to ‘try on’ different shades of lipstick through an app. Apps such as these will allow retailers to focus more on value added services and the overall shopping experience.
Consumers want the flexibility to buy what they want, when they want and it is no longer cost effective for the retailer to stock every item or size in their store. The choice of goods has widened and retailers need to keep up with the extensive range of merchandise on offer. 3-D printing will eventually see shops becoming more like showrooms and shopping centres will have printing outlets to offer the ever expanding range of products.
Retailers are now reimagining old ideas and using technology to make better use of the shop frontage. Window displays are becoming more interactive and even personalised to whoever is standing in front of it. Perhaps a little way off, but the shop window will soon be ‘brought back to life’ and will eventually move away from the old fashioned static display.
Beware! The high street is making a comeback and it’s going to be more exciting than ever.
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