Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley notwithstanding, shopping can seem magical today. If it weren’t for the human delivery person and the wait for his or her arrival, the whole process might seem downright ethereal. Isn’t loading that virtual shopping cart with clicks and beeps comparable to waving a magic wand? There’s no need to soil your fingers by handling cash or the soles of your shoes strolling the mall. Now, if only the purchased item would instantly materialize on the desk beside the computer. For those of us who would sooner eat Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans than window shop, even perusing web photos for new shoes may be exhausting. Mobile applications simply compound the demands on your time and attention. After all, a store window is a store window even if it is the screen on your mobile phone. Is there hope for even the virtual shopping adverse?
Personal shoppers may be one source of sustenance. Their enthusiasm for style, browsing, and purchasing cannot be quenched or fulfilled by their own needs for clothing. They have ample to spare for any number of the fashion unconscious and shopping phobic. Their services, though, usually require meetings, telephone conversations, and loyalty to a major department or apparel store. Virtual consumers may have to wait for the innovators of the near future.
What will they provide? Automated and digital shopping services customized to fit your personal tastes and lifestyle. Like the smart refrigerators that maintain a digital inventory of their contents, they will develop smart closets. Digital tags will document the demise of clothing. Even more, the closet will automatically shop and purchase items to replace items that are shabby or outmoded. Your credit card or store account will be debited. Each store’s staff will package and ship your purchases to you.
Human stylists and programmers will design interfaces that permit you to complete a profile of your tastes and your physique online. You will be able to add a digital mannequin with more detail than currently offered by some online apparel retailers. Those personal shoppers will have the store all to themselves as they shop for their absent clients. Video conferences will still be available for customers who want to have final approval of their purchases. Such conferences will be routinely available for special purchases such as evening and wedding gowns and interview suits. For those of us for whom shopping is recreational, museums and theme parks will be developed. For the price of admission, visitors will be able to window shop on Main Street and purchase souvenirs that memorialize shopping malls and department stores. Will you want a patent shopping bag adorned with the colors and vanished logos of Marshall Field’s or Circuit City? For the truly nostalgic, only a replica of a paper cup with a food court restaurant logo will suit.
© Laura Rizzardini, Inc., 2013