It is no big secret that the future of retail will in no small part be affected by devices such as the Oculus Rift, Apples iWatch, and Google Glass. There may come a time when walking into a store is done fully in virtual reality. Clothes are tried on and purchased in VR, groceries ordered by looking at virtual dishes and so forth.
For years desktop computers and terminals have been at the heart of any retail channel, and lately mobile shopping has been making huge waves and has even been touted as the successor to the old technology. However, all of a sudden it’s starting to look as though mobile retail will not even have a chance to reign very long. With developments such as Google Glass, virtual reality headsets such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, and Apples own iWatch, the battle plans are being drawn up in the war for post-desktop retail dominance. These types of wearable and virtual devices show us what the industry envisions the future will look like once the handset goes the way of the dinosaur.
If these prophecies will pan out to be correct or not, we don’t know, but it’s certainly indicative of the direction the future of tech is headed. The lords of Internet e-commerce are watching the mobile market mature, and are already thinking towards the future, envisioning what the next big thing is going to be. The problem is just as pronounced for the retail giants, who have just now caught up to what mobile technology can offer their customers. While retailers are still trying to get a handle on today’s systems, they should already be asking themselves what the technology of tomorrow will look like. What benefits will it bring to retailers and customers alike?
For many consumers, the mobile devices they carry every day, have allowed them to take their online shopping with them, away from the desktop. Now they can do their online shopping while on the go, or on a whim, at any time, in any place. This has made the retail experience immediate and largely accessible, integrating it readily with people’s daily routines and lives. This helps keep them on the move by not forcing them to hunker down at a desktop in order to online shop.
Envisioning the next step lets us see the benefits of wearable technologies (virtual reality headsets, augmFshopented reality, Smart watches etc.). This will move the retail experience from the hand, to direct line of sight, by allowing the consumer to integrate the shopping experience with a live, real-time view of their surroundings. These retail options can also be online at all times, allowing users to shop in around the clock and providing a real, in store, hands on experience, but through only online selection and options.
Imagining what the retail world post-mobile will look like shows us two options. One option is hugely expansive (VR and AR), while the other is minimal and contracted (Smart watches).
In the case of fully encompassing Virtual Reality, such as the Oculus Rift provides, sellers could create massive online spaces that are filled with endless wares to be scanned quickly and efficiently. Item locations and sale offers could be easily identified, helping to save time while shopping.
In counterpart, wearable technology such as the iWatch would force a minimization of displayable information to the consumer. Due to the limitations on how much information can be displayed, Smart watches may be best suited for keeping track of purchases or, for example, an online auction retailer such as E-bay.
Retailers will have to figure out how to best suit either of these interfaces for the consumer shopping experience.
The reality for E-commerce is that the entire catalog can be shown in either setting and imagination is the only real limit for virtual store fronts and augmented reality shopping.
Online shopping was made possible by the keyboard and mouse, as this provided the hardware to interact with computers. This led to a progression shift to mobile, in which the user engaged with touch by shopping with their tablets and smartphones. Post-mobile will again change the way the user interacts with their devices. It can range from voice controls, movements of the body, hand gestures, tracking eye movements or a combination of all these controls. These varying input methods will be optimized for the roles and situations in which they will best benefit the users online shopping experience. Of course, using a smartphone in conjunction with wearable tech is possible, such as its deployment as a controller. The options of combining one or more inputs is what each individual E-commerce enterprise will need to figure out for their unique retail style and products. After all, it is all part of the personalized experience.
When speaking about virtual reality, no discussion is complete without mentioning one of the technologies main driving forces – virtual reality porn. In terms of E-commerce, regular 2D porn and 3D VR porn are typically purchased online, through studio websites that offer their collection of videos to waiting viewers. With the rise in popularity of VR and the associated pornographic material, sites like Vrsmash.com have simplified the shopping experience for viewers by cataloging and offering sample clips from all the porn studios in one convenient place. Videos are stream able, with no downloads required and can greatly reduce the time spent searching for the next great VR porn fantasy. Sampling and purchasing can be done inside a virtual space (in the headset), reducing the need for separate technologies in the buying process.
As E-commerce continues to mature, these wearable technologies will shrink the rift between the retailer and the consumer. Offering support for these technologies will help bring convenience to the e-commerce world. This technology promises to be the next great evolution in the E-commerce markets, making the shopping experience completely immersive and convenient for the consumer at all times. Whether on the go or at home, the consumer-retailer relationship will become seamless and the only question that will remain is how will your purchases be shipped?