The first half of 2020 brought significant changes to shopping patterns and habits. Overnight, Covid-19 shifted the way consumers purchase goods, and though many retailers have reported significant increases in fully online or digitally-supported transactions, the increase in eCommerce revenue has not replaced lost brick-and-mortar revenue for most. 

The internet has transformed the world of retail. But commercial centers still have a vital role to play as we move towards an “experience economy”. Moreover, mobile applications and automation is changing the face of shopping. Every store now has an app and almost anything can now be ordered online.

Barcode Scanning

One technology that has been around for many years now is barcode scanning.  Barcode scanning apps allow one to scan a barcode and search the item to look up pricing and reviews. Other applications encourage browsing, like Shopkick, which gives buyers points that can be redeemed for rewards or discounts just for walking into or around a store.  Yelp has a similar feature that offers to store retailers to provide discounts to customers when they check in to a store.

Object Recognition

Google Goggles and Amazon let you use pictures taken with your mobile phone to search the web. It’s ideal for things that aren’t easy to describe in words. Probably the next concept as well for online shopping, where you take a picture and get results of products related to whatever it is you snapped a photo of.

Amazon’s Futuristic Grocery 

With Amazon’s latest acquisition of Wholefoods, expect to start seeing this at your local Wholefoods supermarket. Amazon Go is a new kind of store featuring the world’s most advanced shopping technology. No lines, no checkout – just grab and go! Learn more at http://amazon.com/go

While there are many pros to these technologies making our busy lives easier, they also promote a bit of laziness.  Let us know in the comments section below what your take on this is. 

Image Courtesy: Google
Image Courtesy: Google

Challenges and Opportunities

As we look at the changing landscape, it’s impossible to ignore the impact of marketplace commerce solutions. Marketplaces make browsing and shopping online easier than ever, and early adopters like Walmart and Amazon generate huge revenue because of it. In their “Future of the Mall” study, Deloitte notes that 35% of Canadians have an Amazon Prime account, with 50% of members have increased their spending with Amazon in 2020. This shift in consumer behavior is bound to impact footfall, which could have a trickle-down effect that causes some companies to have less appetite for investing in their flagship retail stores.

Image Courtesy: Google
Image Courtesy: Google

Conclusion

It’s unclear how long the current disruption will last, but the retail world will be forever changed regardless. Malls need to find new ways to meet customers where they are and as they want to be served, and to do this successfully they need to be the ones helping define a hybrid future of shopping. 

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