With Black Friday and Cyber Monday out of the way for another year, a new study paints a depressing picture of the future of retail, with high streets set to be abandoned and replaced by robots within a few decades as virtual reality takes over the way consumers shop.
According to The Future of Shopping Report, by 2050 no-one will have to ever have to leave their house again, as, for instance, they will be able to try on clothes in virtual reality changing rooms and get advice from artificial intelligence (AI) shopping assistants which will be able to cater for their every whim.
Drones will then deliver their goods in the back garden – although quite where flat-dwellers will access them is another matter. There is also no mention of where the 2.8 million people who currently work in retail will be plying their trade.
Co-author of the report Russell Freeman, chief technology officer at digital agency Holition, said: “It’s ironic that the fashion industry is renowned for its innovation, yet the way we shop is so old-fashioned. From having to use a changing room to being offered limited space in a shop, the whole experience is generic.”
The report’s finding contradict a recent study which claimed retailers could combat the threat of mass job losses – predicted to be as high as 900,000 by 2025 – by embracing technology to make customers more loyal and bring them back to the high street.
While others have also insisted the rise in retail technology will place humble shop assistant firmly at the sharp end, with location-aware beacon technology offering shoppers personalised services through their mobiles.
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