The Future of Shopping
Every month, Americans spend $350 billion shopping. But what if it was faster, more frugal, more fun?
Stop wish(list)ing, and start saving
Wishlists on the web have been a great shopping tool — but the problem is that they are just lists, and generally tied to an individual store. But what if the next generation of wishlists could do more?
Imagine the ideal wishlist. It would follow you from BestBuy to Target to Whole Foods, whether you’re surfing their sites or walking the aisles. So while it’s powerful on your laptop or desktop, it’s even more powerful on your phone, where it can accept photos of items, scan bar codes for more information, and even memorize location of an item.
But it needs to do more than store items, links and pictures. What if you could set a price you’d be willing to pay for an item, and your wishlist would scour the web searching for that deal, watching and alerting you when the item was found in your price range ? And if it was not available, your wishlist could notify a Best Buy near you – or BestBuy.com – of your interest in purchasing the item at that price, so they know who to contact when it comes in, or if they need to unload excess inventory.
When you are in a store, the wishlist will incorporate all your frequent buyer program information so you can receive alerts on potential savings, and even special offers customized for you based on your list. When an item is out of stock, your wishlist can scan inventory at other local stores, or go online to search for the best price available.
Online, customer reviews and product recommendations are mandatory. Why should shopping in a store be any different?
Imagine standing at the shelf at a retailer like the Apple Store, staring at a product. If only you knew how it would perform when you brought it home. But now you can. Hold your phone’s camera up to the shelf to see ratings from other shoppers, links to deeper reviews on line, and facts about the developer.
What about product recommendations? Scan a bar code and see competing products (which have bought advertising space) that you might consider. Each purchase refines these recommendations, according to your tastes.
Sometimes you need a little advice about a purchase. And who’s better to help than your social network? Take a photo of the items you are considering and share your wishlist with friends. They’ll provide instant like/dislike from friends and suggestions to help you decide.
Finding what you’re looking for fast
Once you enter a store, your phone isn’t just smart, it can be genius. Simply by tapping into existing store data, you can shop like a pro.
Stores like Target know what you’ve bought. Why shouldn’t you? Imagine accessing a list of past Target purchases every time you enter a store. You’ll not only see what you’ve bought before, you can access reviews and recommendations for complementary products, so you’ll never make the same bad purchase twice.
While you’re there, try using the mapping tools on your phone. After all, maps aren’t just great tools for outside, they can work inside, too. So why not use them to navigate a mega store like Whole Foods? Simply zoom in and out to find aisles of interest, or generate a map leading from your current location to the exact location of the products you want.
You use search everyday. So why do you still wander a Home Depot looking for something? Just use a simple search of the inventory, like you would online. Even if it’s out of stock, you’re not out of luck: search result will include key data like when it will be back in-store, other locations where you can find it, and also enable you to buy it online from the retail site.