The new age of shopping is coming, and the future can get wild

If you think shopping combined with entertainment sounds dangerous for your wallet, brace yourself. Video shopping is coming all the way from China, and things are about to get crazier than you’d think. But the future of shopping is also about the personal touch, sustainable principles, and impeccable digital experience. What’s waiting for you in the shops of tomorrow? 

Shopatainment taking over

The combination of video shopping and entertainment will probably completely revolutionize the way we shop in the West. As a16z’s Connie Chan points out, the US market could soon look like the shopatainment-obsessed China. Right now, we’re only at the tip of the iceberg. Where are we heading? 

Chan explains that video commerce has become a sophisticated, professional industry worth $137 billion a year in China. The sellers are something between your favorite actor and a Twitch streamer, and their scripted performances backed by sizable crews are nothing short of a spectacle. The hosts skillfully combinate the principles of a game show, theatre, shop, and auction house.

Once the format arrives in your part of the world, you should get ready for a new obsession. This is not some celebrity persuading you to buy hair vitamins on Instagram. Instead, it’s a whole show designed for your entertainment that requires beautiful visuals, funny hosts, and interaction with the audience. On top of that, in the future, you’ll be shopping for stories, rare pieces, and collectibles. Whoever can persuade you that their product is one of a kind wins. And you’ll be able to own not just SOME shirt or a piece of furniture. You’ll buy the one your favorite seller held in their hands while persuading you that you have to have it. 

Personalized future shopping

“Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name

And they’re always glad you came.”

The Cheers theme song says it all: we like places where we feel attention and care. And in the future, shops will be one of them: be it online or offline. 

As McKinsey’s Praveen Adhi explained, some stores will go as far as personalizing the sounds you’ll hear or what kind of smell will welcome you. The shop assistants will indeed know your name and details of your previous purchases. Therefore they’ll be perfectly equipped to help you. Even the digital mannequins will show you whatever they think you could purchase. “You’ll see a lot more in-store experiences to help you engage with the product, touch and feel it, and get to know it. But when you go to buy the product, you might not just be grabbing it off the floor and walking out the door like you do today. It might be coming out of the back room, it might meet you in your car, or it might meet you at home,” Adhi says. 

The same goes for online stores that can learn so much besides the usual click-based data. Fun (and useful) quizzes, for example, can give retailers a pretty good idea about their customers and fans. On top of that, the whole picture can be painted by providing personalized advice or offering products tailored perfectly to the customer’s taste. 

Finally, sustainability in the shopping of the future

If someone who embodies high fashion admits that her industry needs to emphasize sustainability, it’s getting serious. The iconic Anna Wintour felt this shift amid the pandemic events, and she stressed the time is now to think about excessive consumption. And consumers are starting to notice whether brands adhere to “green” principles, be it fashion or other industries. McKinsey’s Eric Hazan noted that almost a quarter of consumers in several European countries would switch a store if their products aren’t sustainable. The more people join them, the more inevitable will it become for the sellers – and manufacturers – to adjust their selection. 

Exclusivity & urgency of pop-ups

You’ve probably already encountered some pop-up stores in your favorite shopping mall or one of your city’s squares. “One of the prime opportunities for pop-up shops is to create new opportunities for exploration. It’s not about a consumer going to a Ralph Lauren store that is the same today as it was 10 years ago or 20 years ago,” Alex Cohen, a commercial property expert at Compass, told CNBC.

The pop-up concept gives you the exclusivity that only lasts a while, which is a considerable incentive to spend. It’s also a way for retailers to stand out and continuously offer something new. Combined with a superb customer experience, these temporary stores will turn future shopping into a fun experience – an adventure, you might say!

Redefined brick-and-mortar stores

Physical stores have their magic, and nothing can replace touching and trying whatever it is you want to buy. But many of us have become accustomed to online during the pandemic year, and that experience will only become more convenient. As for clothes and makeup, theoretically, you can just try them on online and not even bother going to the store. “Some brands are using augmented reality or virtual reality for products like home appliances, enabling shoppers to take pictures of their rooms and see how well different options fit,” said Catharine Duane, global vertical insights marketing strategist at Facebook for RetailDive. 

It’s pretty realistic that due to the pandemic, the roles of physical and online stores may switch. According to RetailDive, customers want to spend less time in the store, so they come only after deciding what to buy. 

And where does all the browsing, comparing, and considering happen? Online. And that’s where most of the future shopping will take place, with physical stores taking on a new role.

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