Does shopping as we know it have a future?

shutterstock_148298525Right now we’re seeing physical retailers fighting to save their brands through the launch of online shops and showroom style stores. Yet at the same time, the online retailers are concerned that they need to tap into the traditional bricks and mortar shopping method, just in case it e-retailing isn’t the future.

Meanwhile lurking in the background and slowly taking its form is big data, which could possibly wipe out both shopping habits and turn the whole thing on its head.

Data is increasingly being fed back to retail brands to support the cause for consumers to buy their products, also knows as behavioural targeting. Right now it’s simply the likes of tracking browsing and purchasing habits online and in store, but who’s to say our everyday electronically linked appliances won’t get involved. The car, the washing machine and the TV all regularly appear in peoples’ lifestyles, and are capable of being used to collect data for the brands in order to deliver promotional messages back to the consumers. Suddenly there is no need to shop online or pop to the store, because your appliance has just prompted and potentially closed a sale. Take for example Amazon, which is now shipping items before you even make an order, this is all based on user data.

“If the IoT (Internet of Things) were to permeate society as the hype is predicting the volume of data available to brands about individuals’ use of particular products would have the potential to radically transform how brands approach products, channels and the media,” comments Alex Tait, Group Head of E-Commerce at Arcadia Group Ltd and Former Chair of ISBA’s Digital, Data & Direct Action Group.

He continues, “The point is that the technology future is arriving fast and if we look further than industry predictions for 2014, these changes in technology will take marketing and consumers’ potential concerns to a place far beyond the current level of a banner ad pursuing people around the internet”.

64 per cent of companies are planning or have already implemented big data systems, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc, designed to examine organisations’ technology investment plans around big data, stages of big data adoption, business problems solved, data, technology and challenges. However, less than eight per cent of survey respondents have actually deployed.

“The hype around big data continues to drive increased investment and attention, but there is real substance behind the hype,” said Lisa Kart, research director at Gartner. “Our survey underlines the fact that organisations across industries and geographies see ‘opportunity’ and real business value rather than the ‘smoke and mirrors’ with which hypes usually come.”

While organisations continue to struggle to know how to get value from big data, the future for all retailers, large and small is relatively safe, but who can say how long this will last. As the trillions of sensors continue to monitor, track and communicate with each other, populating the IOT with real time data, innovative brands and retailers get ever closer to delivering yet another new way of shopping.