“LIFESTYLE-2030” is far beyond one can foresee while living in 2013. It seems reasonably similar to the divergence in 2000 and the present, but a lot more magnified! So much have we attained since then. Laptops replaced desktops; internet use burst forth across the world; online shopping became a feasible business; social websites (Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace) came into being; thousands of new businesses were established based on the Internet; digital advertising became conventional; touch phones replaced the traditional keypads and the landlines and what not.
Some of the specifications of the environment of 2030 would be something like this:
· -People continue to move to cities and form many more megacities in Asia and around the globe
· -10 – 15% of the population will live in poverty
· -Environmental factors start to take a more dramatic toll, starting with fresh water crisis, food shortages and fossil fuel shortages impacting most middle class families, but causing serious concerns for the bottom 20% of the socio-economic pyramid
· -Technology continues to evolve, but is more focused than ever on fixing social issues, improving health, energy, food and water shortages.
Now, how many of you like shopping? All, I guess! It’s hard to find a 21st century person to dislike shopping. Have you ever fantasized how the shopping traditions would change by the time we’d find ourselves changing the 2030 virtual calendars? There are a lot many processions that will take place by then. Each has a hatful of implications for the way we live and how our cultures evolve. Let me give you a glimpse of what I projected.
The most important one is that the countenance of the megastores and shopping malls will have changed beyond recognition. Many will have closed but those that flourish will become centres of entertainment and brand experience with their show spaces will dominate. They’d be made up of best quality solar-receivers so they could generate their own energy as the current sources of energy would be at its verge. Also, thay'd have plantations to compensate the non-availability of free lands.. Around the world today, while many megastores and large shopping malls are still being built, many more are falling empty and dying. But here’s the wipe. They will still visit stores. The inherent need to touch and feel will never leave us. Shopping out and about has a strong social element for so many people.
Trust and transparency will be key in this socially connected world. Those brands and retailers that haven’t understood this by 2030, will have withered away, as will those brands and retailers with poor products and customer service. There will be nowhere to hide; and therefore, better service ;)
The second factor worth remarking is that while the mobile device will continue to transform our lives in new ways, issues surrounding easy-to-use navigation, privacy and physical and digital security need a lot of work over the next few years. By 2030, most consumers won’t even recognize mobile devices compared to the smart phone in your hand today. Mobile devices embedded in eyewear may display in-context information you want during the day. Display and visual information capture will be enabled through things like glasses, or eventually contacts, embedded with head’s up display technology, video, tag etc.
As you move through your day, it will be easier to tag items you like and buy them immediately or add them to your shopping list. For example, an overcoat on a passerby catches your eye. You say “tag item” as you look at the item and immediately receive confirmation that the item has been identified. Buy it now or add it to a list for later. Being able to tag items you like will also allow you to find physical stores that carry similar treasures. It shows you the price, reviews of buyers, rating, likes, dislikes, specifications, the place of purchase and the nearest store that sells it.
The use of sound to whisper custom messages, ads and offers, will be perfected and used more broadly. Expect to see other technologies that touch your senses including scents, projections and the like get even bigger. Store windows will also be 24/7 windows into shopping for featured merchandise. Store formats will evolve: new formats, pop-up retailing to accelerate. In-store kiosks, digital media and holograms to interact with shoppers. As you move across a your favourite brand showroom, a 3D projectioned lady appears and starts introducing you to the newer products and offers other than the ones visible at your overhead information displays.
Language barriers would fade away. Being a global citizen takes on new meaning with real-time and in-ear translations, this removes any language barrier and making shopping ubiquitous. Whether you are taking an evening stroll in your own city or traveling in Switzerland, Paris, NY or Shanghai, transactions will be easy no matter what language you read, write or speak.
Apart from that, buying will be frictionless - one command (not a click) and available whenever and wherever. They will use a mix of virtual currency and frictionless payment systems like highly evolved PayPal type services. Credit cards, loyalty cards, insurance cards and everything else will be enabled in your mobile device. Your wallet will appreciate a slimmer, plastic-free profile.
There would be making sure things are never out of stock, helping customers find things and introducing them to new foods and recipes. The entry gates would contain ‘My Best Fit Scans’ that would scan our body and add it as a default when we enter a showroom inside. Do they have my size? Yes. They are all your size. Clothes will be made to fit your custom size. Imagine walking through a store and every department was stocked with items you liked and always had your size. In the future, the big difference is that the store will know your measurements and automatically adjust.Just press the visual of the one you prefer and a virtual image of yours appears on the virtual display, bearing it.
Items we buy will have an electronic thread IDs woven into them, making it easier for others to tag them for future purchase. You will be able to either hold your mobile device up towards an item or select it through your eyewear–even an orange at a grocery store–and learn things about it like where it is from or when it was picked. Smart phones will be the primary enabler of shopper engagements.
Home delivery finally has its heyday. Delivery will be how and when customers want it, in fact, if they want it, customer’s purchases will be waiting at home by the time they get back. The likes of car showrooms will be places where consumers pick up a key to test drive a vehicle or perhaps the vehicle they are considering will drive itself to them? Who knows, we could have a robo driving it for us.
By 2030, the consumer will be permanently connected. We will be beyond the age of the small screen. Yes, smart phones, tablets and laptops will doubtless still have their place but we will firmly be in the age of wearable technology. Digitally connected glasses, watches, earpieces and contact lenses will mean that we are all permanently connected.
Head's up information displays will become ever more important for consumers, not just businesses. With all the data and advertising, new businesses will be formed to better consolidate and visualize information for consumers as well as businesses. The shopper will be able to use head’s up displays to pull up a data dashboard and evaluate different products from the #1 combo meal, food and health to 3D displays, electronics and transportation. Look at a meal, and you know how much calories, fats, etc it has and how long has it been staying in the store.
Technology at its best! But who knows what’s gonna happen next? Would we even be alive by then? What side effects would the use of such high technologies have on our lives???
While Hoping for a Future, let’s Hope for a future worth a Hope…
Written for Indiblogger's Ebay Contest