A Buyer’s World: A Vision of Future Shopping

“The consumer has gone mobile. They absorb, share and create content on the fly, which now defines how they make and evaluate their buying decisions.” Brett St. Clair, Head of Google Mobile South Africa

Smartphones, comparison sites, group buying and social networks are changing our shopping habits. We become all seeing and all knowing. We have the information we require available at all times.
The digital advertisers’ toolbox is evolving at the same pace. Google has just recently given us remarketing and interest-based targeting – now, rather than targeting pages that we know talk about surfing, we can identify actual surfers and follow them around the web with our wetsuit ads. It is astounding that the vision of the Semantic Web, an improved, more natural and knowledgeable form of the current Internet that does not simply process search queries and render sites, but understands the meaning behind users’ words and intentions and responds accordingly, is being brought to fruition by online advertisers who see the potential digital has over traditional media and push boundaries to better understand consumers in order to sell their products more efficiently.

And it is much needed. In today’s scenario, you really have to be visible and relevant to attract. Attention and engagement are the marketing gold of now. Besides, mobile phones are the first devices in the history of advertising consumers truly carry in their pockets twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and the rise of smartphones multiplies the options advertisers have to reach them.
So where does this all lead to? Let’s have a look into the future, ten years from now.

The radio starts playing your favourite song, and you wake up. It is connected to your Outlook calendar and your Google+ profile and has chosen the time and tune according to your schedule and preferences. Tired, you make your way to the breakfast table and pour a bowl of Coco Pops – you love Coco Pops! The display on the fridge tells you that they are currently on discount at Checkers, and that there is a Groupon deal for Sushi two of your friends already bought.

The cereals were tasty and nutritious, but you are still feeling the need for a quick snack on the way to work. While crossing the street, a FourSquare message pops up: get a free croissant with your coffee at the bakery around the corner when signing in today. A good coffee is just what you needed to get this day started. The salesperson welcomes you with your FourSquare name. Back on your way, you notice a man with a pair of pants you really think are great. You take a quick snapshot, and your phone instantly directs you to the shops where you can buy them. You order the same ones, in a different colour, on the go. The shop will find out what your measurements are from your personal information on a shopping cloud network.

It’s 6 PM and work is done for the day. Now it’s time for grocery shopping. You walk into the supermarket, scanning bread, butter and milk with your phone, and place the goods in your cart. The phone tells you that the milk is of local produce – thank you for supporting the local farmers – and tells you that this is the ninth bottle you have bought of this brand. If you buy another one, you will get the next one for free. Then you run into a friend. You take a funny picture with him, which is automatically tagged and uploaded into the Google+ circle you have placed this friend in. It reads: “Taken at Pick n Pay Garden’s Centre – Your Supermarket of Note in Cape Town. +1 Pick n Pay here.”

In the electronics section, a nice surprise awaits. “The price of the digital camera you have looked at on Amazon has been reduced.” The arrows on your phone display point you to the right shelf. You scan the camera and find out that one of your Facebook friends – a guy you happen to know is a great photographer – has also bought this camera. You quickly browse through some of his pictures, and decide to buy it. Leaving the shop, you swipe your phone at the scanner. “Thank you for your payment. Have a nice day.” You have to hurry. Your phone tells you that you have a date in an hour.

I hope you enjoyed my vision of the future consumer. Feel free to agree, disagree or think things further in the comment section!