Virtual Shopping, Mobile Phones and AR

Shopping. A lot of us love it. There might be some cries of protest from the back, but we’re willing to bet if you’re the one in charge of the shopping spree you’re enjoying it! You might be a gadget fiend, a lover of furniture, a committed buyer of denim goods, or passionate about designer gear, but most of us love shopping one way or another. Whether physical or virtual shopping.

Shopping has changed significantly since the advent of the world wide web. At one point the buzz was all about the high street, and shopping centres were popping up thick and fast. And then the internet arrived and started to change the retail experience, with more of us getting comfortable with online shopping and the high street beginning to suffer the consequences. With the arrival of the pandemic, our shopping habits changed even more. Everything that you couldn’t buy from your closest supermarket had to be ordered online.

But however much we love the convenience of internet shopping, it’s not always successful. You see nightmare stories about people buying furniture that arrives doll sized. Of wedding dresses that don’t actually dress very much at all! And now, things are changing again. Shoppers are eager to get back to the high street, and the technology that enabled ecommerce to fill the gap as the shops were shut will now play an important part in the recovery of those physical retail businesses. 

The Future of Shopping

Trends agency, Foresight Forecast have recently completed a report on the future of shopping for Snap Inc Technology. The report is based on a global survey of 20,000 shoppers. Instead of predicting the death of the high street, Foresight Forecast found the opposite. Shoppers are eager to return to bricks and mortar stores, but especially if the ease of shopping online can be blended with the richness of an in person shopping experience. Shoppers, particularly here in the UK, are looking for a more ‘connected’ shopping experience.

Did you know 40% of UK consumers use their mobile whilst in store to find out more information on a product, and that 80% of Gen X shoppers say they will use augmented reality (AR) in shopping in the next 5 years?

It goes to show that when technology is built around human behaviour it can have a positive impact. We want the socially connected, tactile experience of physically going shopping with the advantages of technology. A home delivery service for example, or access to stock information whilst in store.

Mobile Shopping

It seems as though one thing has become increasingly important to shoppers – the mobile phone. Phones are being used in store to find out information. They are being used to garner opinions via social media or group chats with friends. 50% of Gen Z and Millennials say they never go shopping without one! Our bet is on that percentage increasing as time goes by. Social media filters and apps can be a key driver for engagement and sales. In fact this report predicts a 37% increase in Gen Z shoppers using AR by 2025. And it looks as though mobile phones are going to play a vital part in integrating online and physical shopping experiences; connecting the brands with the consumers. 

What are shoppers looking for now?

People are starting to want integrated AR and physical possibilities, and therefore we are going to see the use of AR increasing and expanding in this field. People are getting interested in how much more a physical shopping experience can offer. Imagine if shops had smart mirrors, where you could try on clothes and make up and instantly check in with your friends. One of AR’s wins is that you can try before you buy online. It’s entirely possible to create a world, stroll around in some new clothes and then get your friend to meet you in that world to give their opinion on your new look. Brands that dig into this report and point their businesses accordingly could well be seeing the payoff in the next 5 years. 

Why did Snapchat commission this report?

Snapchat has a lot of users all over the world, approximately 5 million at the last count! AR is a big part of Snapchat’s user experience. And not just Snapchat. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest have all become so much more than somewhere to post photos of your last big night out. These platforms have a lot of power when it comes to advertising, generating attention and engagement. And attention and engagement come in lots of forms – it might be the ability for us to try on a wig, adorn ourselves with jewellery or play Pac Man on a Pizza Hut box!

As we’ve mentioned, phones are going to become more important in the shopping experience and social media platforms want to get in on that too. Lots of social media users now buy products straight through their social media platform of choice; so you can see why Snapchat want to get ahead of the game.

How do you feel about this? Are you excited to experience more overlap between physical shopping and AR? Or does it make you feel a bit peculiar? 

For the die-hard shoppers amongst you, you can read the whole report from Snap on the ‘Future of Shopping: Global Report 2021’ here.

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