€3 billion turnover in Belgium in the last 6 months. You need to earn that every day
Online sales are rising. According to the latest IAB figures, 86% of online Belgians buy online. And that’s no coincidence. During the last 6 months, we spent an average of €547 over 6 purchases. But we still spend in a very classical way, on goods and services which drop through our letterboxes.
Ever since the beginning of mankind, people have traded. And the basics of trading haven’t actually changed since then. We’re still used to seeing, touching, handling and trying out goods. And only once we’re convinced do we purchase them. The few alternatives such as mail order have never had large scale success.
So what will be the game-changer?
The early obstacles, such as mistrust of online payment and the ability to return defective or faulty goods, are decreasing all the time. Online payment is becoming increasingly common and consumer protection legislation is becoming stricter.
The major challenge lies in making the online experience as convincing or even more persuasive than traditional shopping. And this is not so very far off…
The virtual changing room is a reality: some American clothing chains have already experimented with full 3D body scans of their customers.
This would allow manufacturers to produce perfect fitting garments. This in itself is a good initiative, but the focus is wrong. It wouldn’t create any economies of scale, quite the opposite in fact.
But suppose we all had a body scan once. It could even be done by an ordinary webcam. Our measurements could be stored in a central database, which would then become the reference point for the major online clothes shops. When you shopped online, the garments could be displayed on a mannequin (the same size as you). And the right size could be recommended.
Imagine if each garment was always available in every size and colour.
This would replace the shopping and fitting experience. But, on the other hand, the chances of your size not being available would be minimal. What’s more, you could certainly choose from a wider range which would also be available in any colour, no longer dependent on the preferences of a single fashion buyer.
Just as fundamental is the redesign of the traditional distribution model. As the stock is no longer the final link in the chain, it will be far less fragmented. And the chance that your clothing size is ‘accidentally’ out of stock would suddenly be greatly reduced.
And you can place any piece of furniture in your house even before you buy it.
OK, you understand about clothing, but what about larger items like furniture? How often have you stood in a furniture shop trying to imagine what a particular piece of furniture would look like in your house? With current augmented reality technology, you can use your webcam to create a perfect 3D simulation and place the piece of furniture you want in the colour you choose in your house. And immediately see if it fits in. Then have it delivered.
Why shop in a strange place when you can shop at friends?
The classic retail model will soon have another strong competitor. You.
A large shoe chain recently took posters announcing that they’d opened 4 million shops. And all because they’d opened 1 online shop. How distressing for them to hear: it is still just 1 shop…
They would be able to open many more shops if they asked you to design the display for your friends. Turning you into the shopkeeper, promoting your selection and convincing your friends. Because you’d benefit too. This form of micro-shopping combined with an online model as described above will mean the end for many boutiques and shops. And the beginning of a new retail era where everyone is both salesperson and customer.