S***w the Queue: Though the dedicated shopper is not afraid of a little queue, or even one that winds like a serpent across the store and sometimes (in case of Sale periods) spills outside of it, there is no shopper who wouldn’t be glad to avoid it. QR Codes are already popular; so there is no doubt that by 2030, they would replace billing counters at stores. Each product (and this can work across all products in any store) would have a QR Code. And when the shoppers want to buy a product, all they have to do is scan the Code with their cell phone and approve the credit card details encrypted in their phones. A successful payment would deactivate the Code and ensure smooth passing through the detectors when the customer walks out with the product. Or, the customer can leave instructions for home delivery. RIP Queue.
An Eye for a Buy: By 2030, shopping glasses would be as popular as Rajinikanth’s goggles (whoever thinks that the latter will NOT remain as popular in 2030 – or, for that matter, in 3030 – may speak up at their own risk). When a shopper would look at any product with the glasses on, the details (material, fit, price) about the product would flash right in front of his eyes. Once the shoppers decide to buy a product, they would simply have to blink thrice in quick succession! The glasses would obviously come programmed with the shopper’s credit card details, and authorizing the same would be a cakewalk – retina scan! This would erase the possibility of credit card fraud as well. Mind it, don’t leave home without your shopping glasses in 2030.
Walking Down the Shopping Lane: Google Earth probably gave birth to more couch globe-trotters than there are real ones. And there is no reason why it shouldn’t create a few million couch shoppers by 2030, if not sooner. With one little swipe, shoppers would be able to ‘enter’ any store that catches their fancy while navigating any lane in the world on Google Earth. They would be free to look around the store, zoom on products, and drag and drop interfering salesmen to one corner. Hovering on a product would throw up all relevant information about it. When they see something they want, double-click, what else? All that is left to do is approve the credit card payment and shipping address (already encrypted in the cell phone or iPad, and so on), and the product is on its way! Stories about waiting for NRI relatives to bring back ‘phoren maal’ would find a place in Grandmother’s Story Collection.
The Virtual Trial Room: It’s a wonder that even after Dress-up Games are already almost passé, no physical or online store (at least none that I know of) has thought of this. Users would be able to virtually visit any apparel store, upload photos of themselves, and ‘try on’ clothes. That would eliminate the most common aftermath of online shopping: ‘But it looked so nice on the website! Why is it looking so ugly on me?!’ Also, it beats waiting for your turn at the trial rooms and the limit of carrying a maximum of three garments at a time when you wish to try on three hundred. Wish for the waist to be cinched a little more or the sleeves shortened a wee bit? Leave your instructions online at the store and they would customize it to suit your preferences. Also, the website would offer a variety of light settings, so that the shopper can view the product in all kinds of light, and know for sure whether what they are buying is red or auburn or orange-red or auburn-orange. Only trial, no error.
Share and Share a ‘Like’: Appreciation, adulation, admiration, flattery and eulogy are words that would probably all be replaced by ‘Like’ in the dictionary by 2030; ‘Like’ with a capital ‘L’. Though it owes its origin to Facebook, the ‘Like’ would probably outlive it. All hail that moment of brilliance when the ‘Like’ was conceived, thanks to which all the social media busybodies could applaud under half a second when they were running short of time or words, or more commonly, both. By 2030, it would surely have thumbed a hike to the shopping world as well. Each product on the shelf would be accompanied by a ‘Like’ button and a small screen. It could be on the hanger (for apparel) or the price/ brand tags. Whoever finds a product ‘Like’-worthy, would simply click the button (which, by 2030, would come as naturally to everyone as breathing – it almost does already). The screen would display how many ‘Like’s the product got, and the count will be updated across all identical products. That would surely answer the tormenting questions whizzing through every shopper’s mind: Is this ‘in? Is this ‘out’? Is this from last year? Is the material good? 1094 Likes on a product would surely smooth out the wrinkles on a confused shopper’s forehead, while the ones wishing to be ‘different’ could smugly pick up the ones with the least ‘Like’s. How many ‘Like’s for this one?’