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Amazon says pet translators and virtual reality will be a mainstay of future shopping experience

Retail stores of the future will focus on smart homes, gadgets and near-instant deliveries navigated by consumers through virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) according to Amazon.

The online retail giant has launched its “Shop the Future” report with help from futurologists Anne Lise Kjaer of Kjaer Global and William Higham of Next Big Thing, in an attempt to predict how shopping trends may change with the advent of new technologies.

Some of the key products expected to explode in popularity are ‘pet translators’ that listen to your pet’s bark or meow and suggest what they want, along with voice-led translators that could make communicating with people in different languages easier than before.

Children’s toys may be linked increasingly to apps in order to provide educational experiences as well as entertainment.

According to the report, virtual and augmented reality will be used to “share vivid experiences with our friends and family, with cameras creating 3D images that you can actually walk around”.

Meanwhile 3D printers could be installed in everyone’s homes and used to print some items immediately, without the need for delivery.

Amazon's smart home vision

“So much behaviour is consumer driven now,” Higham said, “taking control of things and interacting with things is one of the reasons why online [shopping] has done so well; you're not dependent on shop assistants.”

But he said that this did not mean that traditional “bricks and mortar stores” would die an early death, as consumers have repeatedly proven that they value the sense of community that comes from leaving the house and shopping in real world locations.

Supermarkets on the other hand, may be out of luck: “if you want the basics we'll either buy them online or maybe our fridge will buy them for us because it knows we've run out of milk,” he said.

Meanwhile VR may help websites become “more like the best bits of shops”, by allowing users to look around and navigate virtual shelves just as they would in a traditional store.

AR may be used in smartphones or Google Glass-esque devices to provide customers with additional information when visiting traditional stores such as price comparisons or reviews from other consumers who have bought a specific product.

Higham also predicted that we could be on the cusp of widespread adoption of biotechnology citing some Scandinavian firms that are already trialling implants that allow them to open doors and access public transport services.

“Having technology that is somehow embedded in us, in our clothing, in our wrists, our arms, our eyes; it will be increasingly about that.”

Amazon was also keen to highlight its recent push into home deliveries for food and household items through its “Amazon Fresh” service.

Although originally just a bookseller, the company set its sights on competing with UK supermarkets when it launched the service last year. Users may order food by voice command using the Alexa home assistant, while customers subscribed to Prime can receive their deliveries in less than two hours.

Last year the company began trialling the use of drones for home deliveries in Britain, with support from the UK government. 

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