Can Shopping Possibly Get Better? The Good and Bad of the Changing Retail Experience

August 9, 2012  |  

Shopping is so great. So so great. But even something as simple and perfect as this changes with the times.

Increasingly, brick-and-mortar shops are serving as showrooms for online purchases. More people are shopping on their mobile devices. Technology like apps that scan products to find you the best deals across retail outlets and the coming hi-tech fitting rooms will change the way we buy our wardrobes, electronics and other items. And, of course, everyone has their credit card information and shipping address saved on their favorite e-commerce site to make online shopping that much easier.

On the one hand, this is good news. Apps like Shopkick are showing people (lots of people) how they can save money. More information via mobile devices and online sites means a more customized shopping trip for customers. Waste less time, get what you need, get in and get out.

A new and improved site for Lucky magazine promises to be even more direct by letting you shop from their website. They’re even making digital stickers available to flag items you like online. And, chances are, you’re already getting your daily deals emails from sites like LivingSocial and Ideeli. You can buy everything you need and never leave the house.

But all this progress can have drawbacks. Providing more information to do all that mobile shopping could be made available to retailers, which could cause privacy concerns for some. Those who enjoy a good shopping trip could eventually find less merchandise at the stores to linger over.

And there will likely be cuts to the retail workforce.

“Experts aren’t predicting the end of the in-store experience, but it stands to reason that as with other industries, technology might improve efficiency while setting retailers on a path toward a leaner workforce,” writes USA Today. Already, in an effort to revive lagging business and compete with companies like Apple and Amazon, Best Buy is shutting 50 stores and planning to cut $800 million in costs over the next three years. It’s possible even more stores will close. The coming health care law also bodes poorly for retail workers who may find themselves cut all together rather than adding medical benefits.

Are you using all of the latest technology to do your shopping? What do you think of these changes?

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