Every day we hear about the latest technological breakthroughs and how they’d impact our lives when they hit the mainstream.
On the other hand, some innovations have already become so ingrained in our lives that we don’t even notice their impact.
Here are five ways technology has changed the way we shop.
Perhaps the first benefit that modern tech brought to shoppers was the mind-blowing increase in the variety of products available worldwide.
Due to innovations in packaging, delivery, and IT, international shopping is flourishing, and many big names in the industry are investing billions in building better delivery systems and storage networks.
The most striking examples of this phenomenon are e-Commerce giants like Amazon and Alibaba.
These online malls stock anything from beauty products and car parts to household supplies and electronics.
Furthermore, all of this merch can be stored and processed at warehouses operated by the aforementioned companies, so vendors can offer a broad portfolio and keep it as close as possible to their core customers.
To delight a shopper nowadays, it takes more than simply selling a product or service.
We, as consumers, seek and value the whole experience when making a purchase.
Things like quickly getting from “add to basket” to checkout, adequate presence of customer support, and personalization are no longer a bonus, but a normal part of conducting business in the retail sector.
Indeed, it is personalization that is one of the most important developments for retail, on both the consumer and retailer side.
Through an in-depth analysis of customer profiles and purchasing behavior, which is now all done by AI, the business operators can offer better service and incentivize more purchases, while shoppers get products more aligned with their needs.
Perhaps the most significant advantage that technology—more precisely, the Internet—gave to shoppers is the ability to compare offers on the go.
These days you can conveniently weigh your options on any decision, whether it’s contrasting vendor prices on Google Shopping, finding the best plane ticket offers on Momondo, or even comparing the wagering odds for the World Series winner.
This easy access to on-the-spot price information has changed how we shop to the point that checking prices online, even when at a physical store, has become an integral part of the shopping cycle. Now it is not unusual for shoppers to “feel” a product at a brick-and-mortar location, but look for better deals on the Internet—so-called “showrooming.”
Price comparison and deal-tracking platforms have also eliminated the need for nuisances such as keeping shopping catalogs and cutting out discount coupons.
Speaking of physical locations, cashierless stores are already available in many parts of the world, and Amazon is set to bring its Go automated stores across the globe, prompting other big brands to enter the race.
For example, British chain Tesco has also joined the game with recent reports that it is developing a technology to provide shoppers with a cashierless experience.
This is perhaps the newest tech addition to the retail industry, which is why some find it be more of a whim than a necessity.
However, the benefits of cashierless stores go beyond its novelty factor.
For example, these retail spaces make queues and fumbling for change a thing of the past, while also creating a shopping experience more tailored towards the needs of each customer.
Low barrier to entry
Caption: Online marketplaces brought amazing possibilities to the arts-and-skills market.
The last point is more about retailers, but it comes with benefits for shoppers, too.
Technology has quite significantly lowered the entry barrier to opening your own business.
If you have a hobby or knowledge to share, platforms like Etsy and Udemy allow you to enter the retail business with very low to no start-up costs and then market your product internationally.
On the shopper’s side, the benefits include lower prices, uniqueness, personal touch, customization, a very diverse product portfolio to shop from, and much more.
On top of that, there are quite a few stories about such “home-started” side businesses turning into serious contenders for market share.